In December 2017, The UN Security Council implemented resolution 2397 as the DPRK regime were generating foreign export earnings to fund its ongoing missile related activities. The Security Council determined that the DPRK continues to exist as a clear threat to international peace and security and so the sanction was implemented requiring all member states to prohibit any North Korean nationals from engaging in business in foreign countries. At the same time the December 2019 deadline was agreed for the repatriation of all North Korean workers back to the DPRK.
Ballistic Missile Program
North Korea has had a keen interest in developing nuclear weapons since the 1950’s and the ballistic missile program initiated under the Kim dynasty continues today under Kim Jong Un’s regime. North Korea has developed and tested a number of new missiles since Kim Jong Un became leader in 2011, including tests of various models of solid fueled short range ballistic missiles taking place in recent years.
Although you would think that countries within the UN would be fully on board with efforts to prevent the DPRK’s ballistic missile program, along with the threat of penalties for defying the UN enforced sanctions, this is unfortunately not the case. Pyongyang Papers has continued to investigate companies working with North Korea in illicit activity, no doubt hoping to go unnoticed.
UAE Residency Permits
Pyongyang Papers sources have received information that the Korea Kumgang Company, also known as Korea Konggang Company, employees Ri Jun MIn and So In Chol both received United Arab Emirates residency permits. Our sources understand that this was preparation for over 100 DPRK workers to travel to United Arab Emirates, which in turn would continue to provide the DPRK regime with foreign export earnings to fund its ballistic missile program.
The UAE has always been a strong ally of the US. However, it doesn’t seem that the UAE is carrying out their promise that they would no longer be issuing visas to North Korean nationals, as claimed by the UAE Foreign Ministry back in 2017.
Laos and Nepal
Pyongyang Papers has also received information that Ri Jun Min and So In Chol have been busy brokering another overseas worker deal, this time using the Nepal DPRK Embassy as a conduit to a Laos Government official to supply over 1000 workers. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that the workers are still in North Korea with their cases packed waiting to travel!
Although it could be surprising that the UAE are violating sanctions, the same cannot be said for Nepal and Laos. According to a 2019 article describing the repatriation of North Korean workers, the Nepali communists have always had an admiration for the Workers Party of Korea and they view North Koreans as courageously fighting the imperialists, aligned to their own ideologies.
Only now has unrelenting American pressure to enforce UN sanctions against Pyongyang distanced Nepal from their North Korean comrades. The same article reports that most North Korean businesses in Nepal have been shut down and the workers sent home. The UN in Nepal had expressed worry that the North Korean businesses were sponsoring Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development program.
Laos Cooperation Agreement
According to press releases in April 2020 the Foreign Ministries of Laos and North Korea signed a new cooperation agreement in Vientiane to replace the previously expired one. North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) called it an agreement that ‘would make an important contribution to further consolidating and developing the friendly relations’. Laos also maintains an embassy in Pyongyang.
It seems no matter what sanctions are thrown at the DPRK, they always seem to find a way to evade them. However, this is only possible due to the help they receive from other countries who also violate the sanctions despite the pledged effort to denuclearize the DPRK. It is worrying that these countries seemingly prioritize the financial reward from these transactions above international peace and security, rather than standing up to the regime and its attempts to evade sanctions.
If you have any additional information about the Korea Kumgang Company or any other North Korean sanctions evasion please contact Pyongyang Papers.