Soroade Bakery

Pyongyang Papers has continued to investigate Korea Chinson General Corporation and their activities in Africa. Our previous article investigated a contract between the Nigeria company Skynext Services Ltd and Chinson in an obvious violation of UN Security Council resolutions which ban all member states from employing DPRK workers. The aim of this ban is to try and limit the funds heading back to the regime, where it is used to advance the North Korea nuclear & ballistic weapons program.

More Chinson activity in Nigeria

Korea Chinson General Corporation continue to provide North Korean workers to companies in Nigeria. Pyongyang Papers have been informed that Chinson have been supplying workers to the Soroade Bakery & Confectionery Company. Soroade are based at New Auditorium Road, Boun Village, Mowe, Ogun State and lists Husaini G Dumbarambe as its Director. Social media posting from late 2022 appear to verify our claim and shows North Koreans associated with the bakery enjoying some free time.

Social media posting showing North Korean workers in Nigeria

Chinson active in other African countries

Nigeria is not the only country that the Korea Chinson General Corporation actively look to send North Korean workers to. Ethiopia also appears to be lucrative for the company as they continue to exploit DPRK citizens in order to maker money for the regime. Our sources have also informed us of a contract between the Chinson office in Ethiopia & the Ethiopian Construction Design and Supervision Works Corporation (ECDSWC). The contract was signed on 1 November 2022 and covers a two-year period for DPRK geophysicists, a Hydro-Mechanical engineer and a team leader/civil engineer. ECDSWC are an engineering company that was created by merging three companies together with the “commitment to the creation of knowledge base and provision of excelling & sustainable engineering solutions to the challenges of our people throughout Africa.”

In October 2016 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia announced that ECDSWC and the Korea Rural Corporation (KRC) from South Korea had signed a memorandum of understanding encouraging both sides to secure projects in which both are mutually interested. Pyongyang Papers is certain that the memorandum does not include hiring North Korean workers! Pyongyang Papers contacted the Ethiopian Construction Design and Supervision Works Corporation about the contract but they did not reply.

Add the contract to the claims in the latest UN Panel of Experts report that an official from Chinson and an official from the DPRK embassy in Nigeria traveled to the Niger to collect hundreds of thousands of US dollars in cash, and bought the funds back to Nigeria. It becomes very clear that North Korea continues to find ways to circumvent sanctions and fund its nuclear & ballistic weapons program as ordinary citizens continue to suffer. Nigeria and Ethiopia are both UN member states and need to prove that they enforce the sanctions they are committed to.

As always, if you have any information North Korean sanctions evasion or Chinson, please get in touch through the ‘Contact Us’ page.

Pyongyang Papers has continued its recent investigations into the illicit money-making schemes of North Korean individual Nam Un Gyong and her daughter, Ri Son Chong. As previously reported, Nam owned and ran a restaurant called the Blue Flower in Cambodia, this is a blatant violation of UN sanctions which prohibits DPRK individuals working abroad. The money earned from DPRK nationals abroad such as Nam and her daughter, is sent back to the DPRK regime and continues to fund its nuclear weapons program.

The Cambodian government ordered the Blue Flower to close and so we have been keen to see what Nam and Ri have been doing since the closure of the restaurant.

Ri Son Chong was studied business administration at a University in Cambodia, but we know she is also involved in the illicit endeavors of her mother and some of her own. Ri Son Chong helped both in the kitchen and on the cashier desk at the Blue Flower until its closure, whilst also facilitating the production and sale of kimchi to restaurants in the local area of Phnom Penh. We contacted the Blue Flower Facebook page after releasing the last article for comment and the page name and display photo was swiftly changed…

Nam & Ri movements

Pyongyang Papers believes that Nam, and her daughter Ri Son Chong traveled from Phnom Penh to Beijing in the middle of January and Nam’s plan is to head to Shenyang, then Dandong and then back to Beijing before finally traveling back to the DPRK! In our last investigation we noted how Nam had parted ways with her former business partner and was looking for a new partner to open a joint venture restaurant in China. With Nam planning to head back to the DPRK we are unsure where this leaves the plan for the joint venture restaurant in China. Maybe Nam has passed the plan onto another DPRK national in China. If you have any information on the status on the joint venture please get in touch via the ‘Contact Us’ page.

During our investigations, we have also uncovered that Nam Un Gyong also has another daughter – Ri Son Hwa. Ri Son Hwa attended a foreign university and currently works as a trading employee at the Rakwon Guidance Bureau. The Rakwon Guidance Bureau is believed to sit under ‘Room 39’, a secretive party organization which seeks to maintain foreign currency for the North Korean leaders.

It is well documented that ‘Room/Bureau 39’ is a secretive North Korean party organization that seeks ways to maintain the foreign currency slush fund for the country’s leaders

Luxury Goods

Investigations by Pyongyang Papers have also uncovered additional details about Nam Un Gyong and Ri Son Chong activities. It appears the duo were also involved in the luxury goods trade. We are aware of a deal involving both Ri Son Chong and Nam with a Thailand-based DPRK Korea Chilsongmun Trading Corporation (CTC) employee. Ri Son Chong and Nam have spent hundreds of thousands of $’s on alcohol, buying and exporting it from Cambodia to DPRK. Importing and exporting luxury goods to and from North Korea also contravenes UN sanctions, however it is widely known that Kim Jong Un is partial to unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking. We wonder whether Ri Son Chong and Nam’s shipment is headed straight for their leader? Nam and Ri Son Chong also worked with individuals Heng Sovannary and Srey Pov, based in Cambodia, to export more alcohol to DPRK.

The purchasing of luxury goods isn’t limited to just alcohol as we believe that Ri Son Chong has been buying Tommy Hilfiger purses as gifts for friends on her return to the DPRK. We also know Ri Son Chong was looking into other high-end brands such as Bottega Veneta.

Moving Money

It is clear that both Nam and her daughters have the connections and know how to set up these trade deals but we have been questioning how Nam has managed to earn currency overseas as a North Korean citizen without raising suspicion from the banking authorities. Our investigations have uncovered that a Cambodian individual that worked for Nam at her restaurant allowed her to use their bank account to receive large amounts of money. This is a tried and tested method for North Koreans who are earning illicitly abroad.

We are glad to hear that the Cambodian authorities are enforcing sanctions, we hope that China will follow suit and end Nam and her daughters sanction evasion activity. However, based on some of our previous investigations- we aren’t that confident!

Pyongyang Papers will continue to investigate Nam’s sanction breaking activity- if you are aware of any information then please contact us.

Pyongyang Papers has been investigating more North Korean sanctions breaking activity aimed at making money in Africa. According to the UN security Council, North Korea is estimated to run annual deficit of between $500million and $1billion. This is the amount of hard currency that North Korea needs to earn abroad each year to fund the regime and its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Each year North Korea generates an estimated $100 million of this in Africa.

You can read our previous investigations revealing the Republic of Congo, Ghana and Nigeria’s involvement in UN sanction breaking. Our current investigation focuses on another African country – Zambia. As of March 2023, Multiple North Korean workers are continuing to work in a number of companies and disciplines within Zambia.

This contravenes UN Security Council Resolution 2270 which requires direct member states to expel all foreign nationals (including DPRK citizens) who are determined to be working on behalf of a designated entity or otherwise assisting in sanctions evasion, and also resolutions 2375 & 2397 which prohibits member states from providing work authorizations for DPRK nationals in their jurisdiction in connection with admission to their territories and included repatriation of DPRK nationals by December 2019.

Korea General Corporation for External Construction (KOGEN)

One of the companies using North Korean laborers in Zambia is the Korea General Corporation for External Construction (KOGEN) or (GENCO). KOGEN is advertised on Naenara, the official DPRK web portal, as a professional overseas construction company, sending skilled workers and highlighting completed projects in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Russia, Libya and Mongolia. It has also created local branches, such as Zambia. They also known to use the names Chammae Construction Ltd and Gold Pick Construction Ltd. The business listing for Gold Pick Construction Ltd even states that the “main engineering team is from Korea”.

A promotional poster from a Gold Pick Construction Ltd business listing

KOGEN is a well-known entity to the United Nations Panel of Experts. Whilst investigating banks created to support investment or trade with North Korea, the UN uncovered a Malaysian company – Malaysia Korea Partners (MKP). KOGEN is only one of 13 MKP linked companies in Zambia. Using North Korean laborers who were paid pittance, MKP earned hard currency through construction projects, mining, trade in contraband coal and provision of security services. KOGEN, the North Korean entity for which MKP was acting as a front company, offered its services in Equatorial Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire- and Nigeria as well.

Further investigation by the UN revealed that KOGEN’s activities were not limited to Africa. Evidence emerged of a joint venture in the UAE and of significant activity in Russia. From information provided by Zambia and further investigations by the Panel it has been concluded that KOGEN, like MKP, has links to Mansudae Overseas Project Group. Pyongyang Papers have previously investigated Mansudae Overseas Project Group for their involvement in construction projects across Africa.

Moksong Construction Company

Another company we have been informed is operating with North Korean workers in Zambia is Moksong Construction Company, which we believe to be the same entity as the company operating under the name Moksong Overseas Construction & Economic Technology Cooperation Company. In May, NK News released an article detailing Moksong Overseas Construction involvement in construction of a library in Lusaka, Zambia. According to the North Korean commerce website Manmulsang, Moksong has “agencies in several European and African countries to ensure prompt, satisfactory and comprehensive cooperation in the architectural technology on order.”

A copy of the Moksong listing from the Manmulsang website

Pyongyang papers are also aware of another three DPRK entities working in Zambia. These are: Medical Cooperation Delegation, Ecological Environment Technology Cooperation Delegation and DPRK Economic & Commercial Representative Office in Zambia. Our investigation into these companies is still ongoing- please contact us if you have any additional information of the companies listed.

Zambia has been a member of the United Nations since 1964 and have evidently assisted the UN Panel of Experts previously in their investigations into North Korean sanction breaking activity taking place within its borders. Unfortunately it clearly isn’t doing enough to uncover and disrupt the North Korean laborers that still reside and earn money for the DPRK regime. Zambia and other African countries need to seriously address sanctions evasion and attempt to stop the flow of funds back to North Korea. Funds that are being used by Kim Jong Un to develop, test and build weapons that can only ensure more instability in the region.

Pyongyang Papers recently reported on a restaurant called the Blue Flower located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and is run by two North Koreans: Nam Un Gyong and her daughter Ri Son Chong. By running the restaurant Nam and Ri are violating UN Security Council resolution 2397, which prohibits North Korean citizens from working abroad. It is also widely known that the money made by North Korean’s abroad makes its way back to the Kim Jong Un regime and funds North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, one of many sources of contention between the rest of the world and North Korea.

Blue Flower restaurant employees escape police

In our last article we reported how Cambodian authorities had given orders for The Blue Flower restaurant to be closed down. It appears Nam did not listen to the warning, as in a dramatic turn of events, we have been informed that she had to secretly escape from the Blue Flower and that the DPRK staff narrowly avoided capture by the Cambodian authorities due to the constant police presence at the restaurant. Our sources tell us these North Korean employees have now left Cambodia.

Investigations have confirmed that the Blue Flower restaurant is now officially closed and the premises where the restaurant was located apparently trashed. As mentioned previously, the restaurant employed Cambodian nationals due to DPRK border closure. We understand that the Cambodian nationals have all been fired and reportedly left the area. The restaurant may have closed but this does not mean the money-making activities by Nam & Ri have stopped!

North Korean Restaurants in China

With the closure of the Blue Flower. Nam has parted ways with her former business partner, an individual named Pan Yong and is already looking for a new business partner to help her open a joint venture restaurant in China! Since the beginning of this year, despite sanctions being in place, it is reported that at least 10 restaurants and hotels staffed by Koreans have popped up in three Chinese cities. Now that the DPRK borders are slowly re-opening, we believe that many thousands of North Korean workers are returning home from China under a week-long quarantine after arriving in a number of locations, including Rason, Sinuiju and Sunan. The re-opening of the border has also included freight trains making the journey between the two countries again, with one specifically arriving in Sinuiju and returning back to Dandong 45 minutes later.

A view of the sino-Korean friendship bridge

Could this mean more DPRK workers are preparing to move to China to replace the returning workers? or is China finally observing UN Sanctions? Only time will tell but Pyongyang Papers has suspicion it won’t be China observing UN sanctions! Historically, the two sides of the border have agreed to work together to prevent illegal crossings between the Yalu River and Tumen River, with both countries providing their own guards and agreements around times people were able to make the crossing. China also forcibly returned over 500 North Koreans who had escaped to China back over the border.

Illegal workers bringing home souvenirs

It is also likely that the returning DPRK workers, who were sent abroad to work and earn for the regime, will bring a number of sanctioned items home with them, such as money and luxury goods. It appears the Blue Flower had a number of elaborate, expensive looking paintings throughout the restaurant and stocked a large amount of high-end alcohol. Pyongyang Papers wonders if the returning workers and return of freight movement will see an influx of other sanctioned items into North Korea.

One of the paintings from the Blue Flower restaurant

Pyongyang Papers will continue to investigate Nam & Ri as they look to continue their efforts in China to earn sanctioned revenue for the North Korean regime but it is clear that China has a major role to play in enforcing UN sanctions aimed at stopping funds reaching the DPRK and being used to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile program. This is especially relevant given the recent launch of North Korea’s first ‘spy’ satellite using ballistic missile technology.

If you have any further information on Nam Un Gyong, her daughter Ri Son Chong or any other North Korean sanctions evasion, please get in touch through the ‘Contact us’ page.

The DPRK are well known for their dishonest, provocative and non-conforming nature. So its comes as no surprise that when Russia invaded Ukraine, a decision condemned by the world, Kim Jong Un publicly declared his support for Moscow.

Pyongyang Papers have been made aware of another sanctioned DPRK labor deal involving construction workers in Russia. This is not the first time we have investigated a deal of this nature – you can read our previous article here.

Perhaps surprisingly, Russia and North Korea have never had significant relationship. The DPRK is economically dependent on China, which currently accounts for over 90 percent of its total trade volume as well as most food and energy imports. Despite this economic dependence there is reportedly deep distrust between the two nations. China’s attempts to assert dominance over North Korea along with the North Korean regimes efforts to guard against Chinese influence have long generated tension between the two countries. Russia’s stance has always been to follow China’s lead, supporting the DPRK when they do, not supporting them when they don’t.

Pyongyang & Moscow

However, Russia needs help in the form of weapons. The EU have imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia in response to the war of aggression against Ukraine. These sanctions include visa measures, individual sanctions and economic sanctions including huge restrictions on the imports and exports between the EU and Russia. Which is why Russia is seeking an allegiance with the DPRK. The DPRK welcome this allegiance with open arms as it provides many benefits. Not only will a weapons deal with Russia help boost the ever flailing economy … it will also further antagonize the fraught tensions with the western world. A great result for Kim Jong Un!

In August 2023, Kim made the promise in a letter to Vladimir Putin that relations will be ‘further developed into a long standing strategic relationship’. He also went on to state the two countries are ‘fully demonstrating their invincibility and might in their struggle against imperialists’. This letter was followed by the recent summit held in Russia and was attended by Kim. Washington have warned Pyongyang against sending weapons to Russia, as this would violate UN sanctions that prevent arms shipments to and from North Korea – but breaking sanctions comes naturally to North Korea as we have seen on countless previous occasions.

Construction workers to Russia?

Our current investigation involves the DPRK Korea Sungri Chonji Trading Corporation and the Russia based KSK-Stroy Limited Liability Company (ООО КСК СТРОЙ) for the supply of 200 North Korean construction workers to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, Russia.

KSK-Stroy is a construction company that appears to have addresses all over Russia, with each location specializing in different construction types. The Khabarovsk KSK-Stroy’s activity appears to be mainly based on the construction of roads and highways and the Vladivostok company’s activity is engineering communications for water, sanitation and gas supply.

North Korean construction workers

Our sources have also found that the Russia firm ANO Digital Platform solicited a substantial number of North Korean laborers for construction projects in Moscow. Arseniy Shcheltsin is the CEO of ANO Digital Platform and this is not the first time he has been involved in something suspicious having previously been at the center of a scandal involving internet campaigning for the party in power. Pyongyang Papers wonders what use Shcheltsin could have for construction workers with his digital background?

Pyongyang Papers knows that nothing good can come from an alliance between two power hungry dictators such as Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin who prioritize their own political desires over the needs of their imprisoned citizens. We must unite to rid the world of their intolerable reign. Please contact Pyongyang Papers if you have any additional information on the companies listed in this article.

As Pyongyang Papers have previously reported, North Korea exporting coal new. As UN Security Council Resolution 2371 states: “The DPRK is prohibited from supplying, selling, transferring .. coal” and “All Member States are prohibited from procuring such material from the DPRK. by their nationals, or by using their flag vessels or aircraft, whether or not originating in the territory of the DPRK.” Of course, this hasn’t stopped China!

Is coal the ultimate export for North Korea

Our sources have told us that Chinese company called Smart Legend Management Limited (駿成管理有限公司), which may also be known as General Success management Limted has agreed nearly $7 Million to buy 100,000 tons of anthracite coal from Korea O-IL Trading Corporation, formally known as Korea 51 Trading Corporation. This isn’t the first time the company has been involved in sanction breaking activity as Korea 51 Trading Corporation was also mentioned in the August 2020 UN Panel of Experts report as they were involved in employment of 292 DPRK workers abroad.

In 2022, the DPRK smuggled in excess of 525,000 tons of coal to China confirming China’s disregard for the UN by repeatedly purchasing sanctioned goods and services from North Korea. China’s willingness to deal with the North Korean regime has not gone unoticed. Recently, the G7 countries plus three other countries collectively asked China to stop allowing North Korean sanctions evasion in its waters!

North Korea continue to export coal to their allies despite shortages of coal at home, causing hardship for their own population. Kim Jong Un even instructed in his 2019 New Year’s address that coal exports would be redirected for domestic use for North Korea to become self-sufficient. The income from their 5 billion tons of anthracite reserves must be worth much more to the regime via sanctioned exports than their own citizens energy supply. Pyongyang Papers believes the regime would rather earn money for its nuclear and ballistic missle program than help its own citizens!

So how do you deliver 100,000 tons of anthracite coal?

North Korea use multiple ship-to-ship transfers via the yellow sea from Nampo Port. The ship-to-ship transfers are an effort to avoid detection although it has been widely that sales have continued since the sanctions were imposed. It is also believed that they are getting braver with their exports and avoiding ship-to-ship transfers, with Chinese ships collecting the coal from Nampo port direct!

In 2021 Coal exports from North Korea to China rose due to severe shortages causing rolling blackouts in many parts of China. Sadly, for the two countries the 2022 total is down mainly due to the COVID pandemic positive cases within China throughout the year.

Going back even further, 38 North conducted analysis looking at satellite imagery of the coal mines in North Korea between 2015-2019. They found a considerable increase in activity with noticeable growth of spoil piles around the mines and improvements to transport system to get coal to ports like Nampo. These images show that the sanctions have not affected North Korea’s coal export industry and none of its infrastructure has collapsed. In January 2023 Korean Central News Agency announced that DPRK coal production had increased “by intensifying the ideological work to arouse the masses”!

Nampo-Tae-Phyong-2
Tae Phyong 2 docks at the North Korean port of Nampo – August 2021

Why China?

North Korea and China have a difficult relationship. Although they are allies their relationship has deteriorated with Kim Jung Un’s missile testing and deliberate timing close to big Chinese events. It is questionable why Kim Jong Un would decide to do this as China has a hand on North Korea’s economic power and stopping trade with them would be extremely disruptive. China could easily import their coal from other countries but due to political intentions and economic benefits for China, the risk of being caught sanction breaking is outweighed by the advantages. A North Korean defector told one news outlet that North Korea would only last a month without its trade deals with China! So, no wonder why the two countries are so keen to continue supporting each other.

If you know any more information about these coal deals and the companies involved in them, please get in contact with Pyongyang Papers through the ‘Contact Us’ page!

Opportunity – A situation or occasion which makes it possible to do something that you want. This definition perfectly sums up the efforts of the North Korean regime who will never look to miss an opportunity. Moral dilemmas are non existent when money is available and North Korea is happy to make money, even if it is at the expense of innocent lives!

Wagner – Beginnings & Expansion into Africa

The Wagner Group (Группа Вагнера) is a Russian paramilitary organization co-founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin & Dmitry Utkin. Before the failed wagner rebellion in June, Prigozhin was a Russian oligarch who controled a network of heavily influential companies including the Internet Research Agency & Concord Management and Consulting. Wagner appears to have substantial ties to the Russian state, operating in support of Russian interests and have been described as ‘a private army of Putin’

Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed he initially founded the Wagner Group to support Russian backed separatist forces in the Donbas region, Ukraine in 2014. By late 2015 Wagner were also involved in Syrian civil war and their efforts to expand their activities and influence have only continued with Wagner believed to still be active in many African counties including:

• Central African Republic
• Madagascar
• Libya
• Mozambique
• Mali
• Chad

Media reports suggest that Wagner are also heavily active in Sudan, a country currently being torn apart by two rival Sudanese generals fighting for control. Wagners previous interest in Sudan involved lucrative gold mining concessions as well as providing training and equipment to the security forces.

Recent reports by the Wall Street Journal claim that the Wagner group has offered heavy weapons to the leader of Sudan’s Rapid Support Force (RSF), Lt Gen. Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo and a recent CNN investigation also details flight movements indicating the potential weapons drop to RSF by Wagner.

Wagner fighters have been accused of numerous human rights breaches including torture, rape, mass execution and child abduction. Their actions have seen them sanctioned by several countries and organizations including the EU & US.

Where do North Korea get involved?

As mentioned earlier the North Korean regime likes oppurtuunity and in this case it’s the opportunity to make money. And where there is war there is always opportunity. Pyongyang Papers has been investigating DPRKs sanction breaking activity on the African continent for a number of years and has a growing network of sources that are willing to supply us information.

North Korean activity in Africa is just as shady as Wagner and over the years the DPRK have found the continent of Africa a rich source of revenue. The type of activity in Africa is wide ranging & sanctioned. For example, our previous articles have highlighted North Korean medical workers across Africa & DPRK involvement in construction projects. Over the decades the DPRK regime has also offered more sinister services to African leaders.

A recent video emerged online depicting the RSF capturing weapons in Sudan that are believed to have originated from North Korea. Pyongyang Papers has also been informed that operating throughout Africa, Wagner is supplying DPRK sourced anti-aircraft missiles and mortars to rebel cells. With Wagner supplying the RSF with North Korean weapons and North Korean weapons being used by the Sudanese Armed Forces, this effectively means that North Korea has managed to arm both sides of the conflict. Proof if needed that the North Korean regime positions money generation for its ballistic weapons program above everything else. Even if the cost is hundreds or thousands of lives.

North Korean weapons currently in Africa?

North Korea has provided military assistance to many African countries over a long period of time. The assistance offered has ranged from training & advisors to pilots, specials forces and of course …. Weapons!
A recent example involves the Haegumgang Trading Corporation & Nigeria, who were planning to purchase $3.5 million worth of military equipment from North Korea in June 2021. This prompted an investigation from the UN Panel of Experts.

As recently as the end of March, Burkina Faso’s Foreign Ministry announced that it plans to resume diplomatic relations with North Korea and “focus on military equipment, mining, healthcare, agriculture and research”.

Wagner and North Korea

It has been widely reported that Wagner has purchased North Korean weapons for use in the Ukraine conflict. But with the ongoing conflict in Sudan and unstable alliances across several African countries, less visible in the public domain, the opportunity for the DPRK regime to make money and Wagner & Russia to further its interests in the region are just too good to ignore.

As always, if you have any information on DPRK sanctions evasion or would like to get in touch about one of our articles, please use the ‘Contact Us’ page.

DPRK and African Flags

As we have written about previously, it is well known that North Korea send workers abroad to bring money home for the Regime. Pyongyang Papers have previously talked about Doctors relocating to Africa but for this investigation we are zoning in on Niger and Nigeria. It is known that these workers should have returned home by December 2019 due to sanctions, but one healthcare professional told NKNews that North Koreans are still working in Nigeria despite the ban on overseas DPRK labor. In Novemebr 2020, Nigeria told told the UN Panel of Experts that a group of 37 North Korean healthcare professionals were awaiting deportation but due to lockdowns their cases were stalled. Here at Pyongyang Papers, we wonder if these 37 individuals were ever sent back to their homelands.

What else are they up to?

It has been reported that a range of North Korean-style hospitals have been set up in different African countries and some of them even sell prescriptions for herbal medicines that were later found to contain dangerous amounts of poisonous heavy metals! Information has been passed to us that indicate that complints against the DPRK are on the increase.

Photo
An advert for Faris Hospital Ltd.

One DPRK physician at Faris Hospital Ltd., had his contract terminated due to serious malpractice. Pyongyang Papers are led to believe that this physician is actively looking for a new contract with a number of Nigerian hospitals.

Overseas postings are highly sought after and usually reserved for the upper classes – Doctors in foreign postings can earn $1000 per month with $800 of that going back to North Korea. In contrast, those in the restaurant industry only tend to earn a few hundred dollars with similar proportions being deducted. DPRK doctors also tend to b able to move around more freely and are not restricted to strict rules like those working in restaurants. So no wonder this physician is keen to remain in work abroad!

North Korea’s own healthcare system is in a poor state due to lack of food and drugs – people are self-medicating and are being forced to have amputations when the drugs needed to cure infections are not readily available.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits hospitalized survivors of horror bus  crash | CNN
Kim Jong Un visiting patients in hospital

Where is the money?

Lack of funds also appears to be an issue overseas after a prominent member of staff at the Niger Optical Services Co. LTD., hospital located in Igbo-Ukwu Ekwulobia, Nigeria, recorded a complaint to the Chief Representative of the DPRK Chinson General Corporation Representative Office in Nigeria. This was about the medical staff, who joined the srvice in 2019, not generating enough income for the optical service. Pyongyang Papers wonders how much these medical staff are making for the Regime! And if they are not generating money for the service, how long can they remain employed?

Due to a long-standing relationship between Africa and North Korea since the Cold War, and the fact the labor is highly skilled yet cheap, the country and companies within it seems to be ignoring the UN sanctions for their own gain. These health workers in Nigeria and the rest of Africa are in violation of UN security council resolution 2397, even in 2020 (after the workers should have been sent home) North Korea and Nigeria signed a public health cooperation agreement and the Nigerian Health Minister claimed that Nigeria had a desire to learn from North Korea in the sphere of public health – this is concerning to hear with links to malpractice!

If you have any more information about DPRK physicians and health workers in Nigeria, here at Pyongyang Papers, we appreciate anything you can provide us. Please get in contact.

Regular readers into DPRK sanctions evasion will have heard of Winson Oil or the Winson Group previously. Pyongyang Papers investigated Winson Oil and their involvement facilitating the sale of oil to North Korea in 2020.

In March 2021, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and C4ADS went a step further and were able to unpick the complicated web of companies, individuals and ships involved in the Winson network. This network included criminal links, shell companies and a range of obfuscation techniques in use to try and hide the illicit activity. The ‘Black Gold’ report details how Winson Oil are a key node in the DPRK’s fuel procurement network and were using their links, as a major regional oil trader, to help breach sanction resolution 2397 (2017). The resolution states that “all member states are prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring crude oil that exceeds the aggregated amounts of 4 million barrels or 525,000 tons per 12-month period from 22 December 2017”.

The UN Panel of Experts contacted Winson Oil who naturally denied involvement and stated: “Winson denies, in the strongest possible terms, any and all allegations and/or insinuations that it knowingly facilitated the illicit supply of oil to North Korea in breach of any United Nations Security Council resolutions, and/or that it is a ‘key node’ in North Korea’s procurement of oil or refined petroleum products”. However the UN investigation highlighted some flaws in Winsons denial of any involvement as the individual, Mr. Chen Chi-wei, had used the same address, as was used to register one of Winsons ships, to register the company Winson had dealt oil to.

Jie Sheng Ship Management Co., Ltd

Jie Sheng Ship Management (傑陞船舶管理顧問有限公司) is a company that is not likely to be familiar to many but their relationship with Winson is slightly suspicious and warrants further investigation. Pyongyang Papers have been advised that Winson have recently transferred a number of ships to Jie Sheng Ship Management Co., Ltd and investigations online suggests this is true. The ships include:

  • ANGEL 22 (IMO 9191230)
  • ANGEL 33 (IMO 9011404)
  • ANGEL 38 (IMO 9175743)
  • ANGEL 101 (IMO 9101455)
  • ANGEL 106 (IMO 9141895)
  • ANGEL NO.1 (IMO 9434709)
  • ANGEL NO.2 (IMO 9146027)
  • OCEAN CRYSTAL (IMO 9116905)
  • OCEAN SPLENDID (IMO 9221683)
  • AT HONOR (IMO 9316555)
  • NEW HARMONY (IMO 9208605) – Previously named the ANGEL 17 and still appears on the Winson homepage

This itself in not unusual as ships are often sold when a company is looking to upgrade its fleet or adjust its business model. However, some additional details regarding the Jie Sheng Ship management Co., Ltd leave us wondering what is really going on.

Other Links

A news article from July 2022 about the ANGEL 33 being abandoned at sea after a leak suggests that Jie Sheng operates mostly tankers that are used to supply fuel to fishing trawlers at sea. This model of operating is very similar to the shuttle method described in the ‘Black Gold’ report. The news article also suggests that Jie Sheng Ship Management Co,. Ltd operate around 20 tankers. A very sizeable amount but appears to have a very minimal online presence apart from a few business listings offering limited information. This is regularly noted as a potential indicator of a shell company. One business listing suggests that Jie Sheng is located at Floor 25, No. 29, Hanbian Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Floor 25 is believed to be one of the floors owned by Winson Shipping Taiwan! Several other Winson related companies are also registered to the same address adding to our suspicions.

Jie Sheng Ship Management Co., Ltd
Online business listing for Jie Sheng Ship Management Co., Ltd

Online social media profiles also suggest a deeper connection between Jie Sheng Ship Management Co,. Ltd and Winson. Several individuals claim to have worked for both companies at the same time and recent posts show crew on board some of the Jie Sheng Ship Management Co., Ltd vessels wearing clothing with the Winson Group logo on them.

All of this suggests that Jie Sheng may just be a shell company that Winson has setup. The shell company could be completely innocent but Pyongyang Papers asks the question, why does it need to exist in the first place? With the Winson Groups previous activity and subsequent denial of any wrongdoing, along with the limited company information and setup. We suggest that the company is likely being used to hide current or previous illicit activity and Pyongyang Papers would appreciate any additional information that may be available to help our ongoing investigation. As always, you can get in touch through the ‘Contact Us’ page.

North Koreans brokering deals and earning commission seems to be a current trend that Pyongyang Papers is investigating on a regular basis. This option of earning currency to send back to the regime is attractive as it allows North Koreans to earn money without ultimately having to be directly involved in the movement of good and services which may come under scrutiny. Brokering deals is also very attractive as it allows the North Koreans to stay under the radar of law enforcement whilst ensuring the deals appear completely legitimate. In many cases the vendors involved in the deals may not be aware that North Koreans are facilitating the deal!

Chong Sang-Hun

As mentioned previously, Chong Sang-Hun is an official at the DPRK embassy in Thailand who often brokers deals to earn huge amounts of commission with minimal risks. His previous deals involve gold, coking coal and copper cathodes. Pyongyang Papers sources have informed us that Chong is currently working on a commission based deal worth millions of dollars on behalf of Taiwan based company Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturing Inc. (欣憶電子股份有限公司) – SEM.

SEM street view
Street view of the Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturing office in Taoyuan, Taiwan

SEM, also known as Xinyi Electronic Co., Ltd. at times are “One of the renowned suppliers and exporters of semiconductor machinery in Taiwan” according to their website and are based in Zhongli District in Taoyuan City. Their primary business is buying, selling, leasing and refurbishing semiconductor related equipment. Pyongyang Papers wonders how much the chairman Chu Smith knows about North Korean involvement in brokering business deals for his company? We are continuing to investigate Chong and SEM but if you have any information regarding the deal, please get in touch through the ‘Contact Us’ page.

Brokering deals – A worrying trend

North Koreans and their friends brokering deals, either for the regime or to help the regime, is not new but does appear to increasing in regularity. Back in 2012, a notorious British international arms dealer named Michael Ranger was prosecuted and jailed for brokering an arms deal between North Korea and Azerbaijan. The latest UN Panel of Experts midterm report also note that Haegumgang Trading Corporation, a DPRK weapons trading entity, was planning on brokering $3.5 million worth of military equipment to Nigeria in June 2021, And in July 2021 a South Korean-born Australian named Chan Han Choi was sentenced to over 3 years in prison for breaking UN sanctions by trying to broker deals for missile components and coal to raise funds for the regime, Chan Han Choi had a history on involvement with North Korea and had previously tried to involve North Korean athletes in the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Allowing the DPRK to broker deals, and their allies to broker deals on behalf of North Korea unchallenged ensures that the regime has a steady flow of cash to continue to pursue its nuclear ambitions and maintains instability in Asia. Recently the DPRK regime has increased their missile tests to unprecedented levels with Kim Jong Un recently stating the DPRK’s need to secure “overwhelming military power”. This has North Korea watchers around the world wondering if a nuclear test may be imminent. Pyongyang Papers calls on the UN and other investigative bodies to look into the use of brokers and the role they play in avoiding sanctions.

As always, if you have any information regarding the topics in any of our articles, please get in touch through the ‘Contact Us’ page