South Korea Attempts to Get Exemption on Travel Sanctions for North Korean Officials to Attend Winter Olympics

It is pretty clear that the Kim regime is using the Winter Olympics to set a precedent for other countries to point to in order violate United Nations sanctions:

Both Kim Yo-jung and Choe Hwi are sanctioned by the United States for human rights abuses. Kim because she is “part of the agency in North Korea who’s responsible for propaganda, for censorship, controlling information so that the people of the country do not know about the rest of the world,” says the Treasury Department. Choe is subject to United Nations sanctions, as well, which actually bar him from leaving his country.

Choe is “First Vice Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, which controls all Democratic People’s Republic of Korea media and is used by the government to control the public,” the United Nations says. The South Korean government is reportedly trying to get an exemption to the travel ban for the Olympics from the UN Security Council.  [Weekly Standard]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Asks South Korea to Circumvent UN Fuel Oil Sanctions

We all knew that the Kim regime was going to use the Winter Olympics as a means to circumvent United Nations sanctions and they are not even trying to hide it:

The government is agonizing over whether it should send refined petroleum products to North Korea for upcoming joint cultural events in the midst of tough international sanctions over Pyongyang’s missile tests, officials said Sunday.

“We told the North to take charge of supplying the electricity necessary to hold the joint cultural events but received an answer that it is difficult to stably supply power to the facility built by the South Korean side,” a senior government official said, requesting not to be named. “In the end, we are the ones who should solve the electricity problem.”

The official noted that it is more difficult than ever to ship refined petroleum products to North Korea because of new sanctions that have been imposed by the United Nations and the United States.

The two Koreas agreed last week to hold cultural events at Mount Kumgang on the North’s east coast before the Winter Olympics opens in South Korea’s alpine city of PyeongChang on Feb. 9. The joint events are most likely to be held at a 620-person cultural hall in the mountain resort.

The likelihood is that a diesel-fueled electric generator will be in use for the events, as that is what Hyundai Asan, the South Korean company that operated the long-suspended package tours to the scenic North Korean mountain, did in the past.

The United Nations resolution adopted in December, however, imposes a cap of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum that can be shipped to the isolated communist country.

Officials expect that 10,000 liters (2641.7 gallons) of diesel oil will be needed for the upcoming events.

“We believe it won’t be a problem if we send the diesel oil to the North and report this to the UN Security Council later,” a government official said.   [Joong Ang Ilbo via a reader tip]

No matter how little the use of the oil is this will set a precedent that can be followed to continue to circumvent sanctions.  When the Moon administration likely comes back later to reopen Mt. Gumgang tours, start tours to the Masiki Ski Resort, or reopen the Kaesong Industrial complex in North Korea they can power all these projects using oil brought in from the South.  This bringing in the oil for the cultural performance in North Korea is almost like a proof of concept of how the Moon administration, if it wants to, can circumvent sanctions to start these inter-Korean projects.

Japanese Reports to UN Another Violation of UN Sanctions By North Korean Ship

Via a reader tip comes yet another example of how North Korea continues to violate sanctions:

Japan has told the United Nations about a North Korean tanker spotted in the East China Sea that it suspects was engaged in a transfer of goods with another tanker in defiance of U.N. sanctions, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of hitting the United States has spurred deepening U.N. Security Council sanctions and stoked fears of a military conflict.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, the North Korean-flagged tanker “Rye Song Gang 1” – blacklisted by the United Nations last month for carrying banned cargo – was spotted by a Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force patrol plane with the Dominican-flagged tanker “Yuk Tung” tied up beside it in the East China Sea on Saturday.

The two boats were lit up and some kind of activity was taking place, the Foreign Ministry said, adding that the Japanese government strongly suspected them of transferring goods in violation of the U.N. sanctions.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link, but at some point it seems something has to be done to stop this activity instead of just watching it happen.

North Korea’s UN Mission Upset State Department Will Not Use Official Name

Here is the stupidest dispute yet from North Korea with the United States:

North Korea demanded an apology from the United States on Wednesday for what it called “insolent outrageous behavior” in refusing to refer to the country by its official name — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korean counsellor Ri Song Chol made the demand at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly committee dealing with relations that the United States, calling the Trump administration’s action a serious political issue “related to sovereignty of an independent member state of the United Nations.”

He said the administration is driven by “dishonest and impure motivation to politicize every single protocol issue.”

Ri said his mission made a routine request to the U.S. Mission to renew a tax exemption card for one of its diplomats in early December and was very surprised when a week later the new card came back with the country’s name as “North Korea.” The cards allow U.N. diplomats to make purchases without paying tax.

The mission assumed it was a “technical mistake,” Ri said, but was shocked to hear from the U.S. Mission that the State Department in Washington refused to change the country’s name to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

He quoted a reply from the U.S. Mission saying “our DC office” said names on credentials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “indicate North Korea which is the conventional short abbreviation … so the tax card will remain the same.”  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link.

Academic Wants United Nations Headquarters Moved to South Korea

Here is what one good idea fairy Mr. Emanuel Yi Pastreich from Kyunghee University wants to do with the UN Headquarters:

So what are the implications of American disengagement from the U.N. for South Korea, and for the peninsula as a whole? The immediate response among my Korean friends is dread. After all, Koreans see their country as a “shrimp among whales” that needs constant protection and support from the U.S.

But every crisis is an opportunity, if you have the courage to seize the moment.

No country is more deeply committed to multilateralism in trade, in diplomacy and in security than South Korea, granted that the alliance with the U.S. limits the South’s ability to make good on this general sentiment among policy makers. Whether on the left or on the right, there is a remarkable consensus in South Korea concerning good relations with all its neighbors (with the notable exception of North Korea).

What if South Korea proposed that U.N. headquarters be moved from New York City to the Korean Peninsula, perhaps even to Seoul?

To start with, the Trump administration might welcome this proposal. Just look at all the administration has done to undermine multilateral cooperation over the last year. Moreover, there are also progressive voices around the world that suggest the U.S. is no longer qualified to be home to such an institution in light of the country’s recent shift to isolationism.

There has been a strong argument for years that a major U.N. institution should be located in Northeast Asia. After all, other than the United Nations University in Tokyo and some smaller offices, The major U.N. institutions are in Geneva (and elsewhere in Europe), Nairobi, New York City and Washington D.C.

Northeast Asia, as the new center of the global economy and a growing source for new cultural production, would be a logical place for the headquarters.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but I do find it interesting that Mr. Pastreich is claiming US isolationism and disengagement from the UN when the Trump administration has repeatedly gone to the UN for sanctions on North Korea.  Mr. Pastreich’s argument is mostly based on the Trump administration’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem.  Last I checked the United Nations has no authority to tell other countries where their embassy should be located.

Also Mr. Pastreich talks about the Trump administration wanting to limit or end global governance.  In my opinion the Trump administration wants to influence global governance that is not in the US’s interest.  Sanctions on the Kim regime is in the US’s interests thus why the Trump administration pursues it with the United Nations.  Signing on to the Paris Climate Accord brokered by the UN the Trump administration determined was not in the US’s economic interest.

Satellite Photos Show Chinese Ships Trading Oil Illegally with North Korea

If the Chinese government wanted this illegal activity to be stopped they could easily stop it, but they are clearly turning a blind eye to this illegal activity.  The publication of these satellite photographs is clearly a signal to the Chinese that their bluff is being called after more stringent UN sanctions were passed last week against North Korea:

U.S. reconnaissance satellites have spotted Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean vessels on the West Sea around 30 times since October.

According to South Korean government sources, the satellites have pictured large Chinese and North Korean ships illegally trading in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea.

The satellite pictures even show the names of the ships. A government source said, “We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.”

The U.S. Treasury Department placed six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships on sanctions list on Nov. 21, when it published spy satellite images taken on Oct. 19 showing a ship named Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel.   [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Responds with Usual Rhetoric After Passing of Tougher UN Sanctions

Really nothing new here in the response from North Korea in regards to the latest round of UN sanctions passed against them:

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) – The latest U.N. sanctions against North Korea are an act of war and tantamount to a complete economic blockade against it, North Korea’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, threatening to punish those who supported the measure.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad.

The U.N. resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and, in a last-minute change, demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 24 months, instead of 12 months as first proposed.

The U.S.-drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Council to further reductions if it were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another ICBM.

In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry said the United States was terrified by its nuclear force and was getting “more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country”.

The new resolution was tantamount to a complete economic blockade of North Korea, the ministry said.

“We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the U.S. and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our Republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region and categorically reject the ‘resolution’,” it said.

“There is no more fatal blunder than the miscalculation that the U.S. and its followers could check by already worn-out ‘sanctions’ the victorious advance of our people who have brilliantly accomplished the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force”, the ministry said.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link.

United Nations to Propose Sanctions Further Cutting North Korea’s Oil Supply

I doubt the Kim regime is too concerned about new sanctions considering how they continue to evade sanctions through Chinese complicity:

Newly proposed sanctions on North Korea could have a significant effect on the isolated country’s already struggling economy, analysts said ahead of an expected U.N. Security Council vote on Friday, which will hinge on support from China and Russia.  (……)

The draft U.N. resolution, seen by Reuters on Thursday, seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum product exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and demand the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 12 months.

It would also cap crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year, as well as ban a number of North Korean exports such as machinery, lumber, and other products and resources.

“If they were enforced, the cap on oil would be devastating for North Korea’s haulage industry, for North Koreans who use generators at home or for productive activities, and for (state-owned enterprises) that do the same,” said Peter Ward, a columnist for NK News, a website that tracks North Korea.

The forced repatriation of foreign workers would also cut off vital sources of foreign currency and investment not only for the government but also for North Korea’s emerging market economy, he said.

“If such sanctions were enforced, they would thus impede and endanger North Korea’s economic development.  [Business Insider]

You can read more at the link, but the big qualifier mentioned in the article is if they are enforced.

United Nations Command Decides To Not Release Footage of North Korean Defector’s Escape

My guess on not releasing this footage may be that the UNC does not want to rub it in the face of the Kim regime that one of their soldiers defected when they have been quiet recently:

The United Nations Command has put off a plan to release video footage of a North Korean soldier’s dramatic escape across a jointly patrolled area in the heart of the Demilitarized Zone.

The soldier defected to the South on Monday by driving a military jeep to the line that divides the peninsula, then rushing across it under a hail of gunfire from his former comrades.

The defector was severely wounded by the gunfire and has been hospitalized. His doctor, Lee Guk-jong, told reporters his condition was stabilized after a second operation on Wednesday, but he was riddled with parasites that were complicating his recovery.

Officials with the UNC, which is commanded by U.S. Army Gen. Vincent Brooks and has authority over the Joint Security Area, said earlier this week they would make public footage from surveillance cameras that monitored the border dash.

But the UNC issued a press release Friday summarizing already-known facts of the case and saying it will not release more details or material until an investigation is completed.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.

Picture of the Day: UN Day Recognized at UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan

Remembering fallen heroes

A U.S. veteran of the 1950-53 Korean War salutes in front of the graves of deceased fellow soldiers at the U.N. Memorial Cemetery in Busan, 453 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 24, 2017, the 72nd United Nations Day. A total of 2,300 people are interred at the cemetery that honors U.N.-led coalition forces who fought with the South in the conflict. (Yonhap)