It seems the DPRK have zero boundaries when it comes to the illicit sanction breaking activity they are involved in the fund their nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang Papers has recently reported on the DPRK’s ventures in cyber-crime, adding to it’s tried and tested methods of generating funds such as ship to ship transfers, overseas workers and importing luxury goods.

Pyongyang Papers has been informed of a deal involving DPRK officials in Southeast Asia. Chong Sang-hun, based in Thailand, and Chong Hyuk, based n China, are acting as middlemen in brokering deals that netted $millions in commission. We have noticed that when the DPRK have no illegal services or goods to offer themselves, instead they use their nationals, often those acting in official roles such as Sang-hun and Hyo’k, broker these deals for other countries and as a result earn a commission fee to send back to the regime.

The deals for the purchase of tonnes of gold over a 12 month period were on behalf of the Chinese company Hainan Huaxian trading Company Ltd. (HHTC) as the buyer and Golden Lion Precious Resources Pte Ltd as the seller.

Golden Lion Precious Resources are an exempt private company with a registered address at 7, Temasek Boulevard, #12-07, Suntec Twoer One, Singapore 038987. the company’s activity is gold bullion brokers.

Our investigation into HHTC and their involvement in illicit North Korean activity is still underway, but we have been made aware they were also in the market to purchase multiple hundreds of thousands of tonnes of aluminum ingots over a two-year period. We wonder if San-hun and Hyok will jump at the chance to make some quick money off the back of this deal too.

Nuke testing

Kin Jong Un’s persistent refusal to stop north Korea’s nuclear testing program resulted in enforced UN international sanctions in September 2017. Resolution 2270 states that all member states are to prohibit DPRK diplomats, government representatives (or DPRK nationals working in that capacity) from participating in joint ventures and any other business arrangements.

However, it seems the constant tightening of UN sanctions, crippling the North Korean economy, have still not deterred Kim Jong Un from testing Nukes. In fact, since the sanctions were introduced the missile tests have increased at an alarming rate.

In 2020, North Korea conducted four missile tests. This doubled in 2021 to eight tests. In 2022, Kim Jong Un has so far conducted 16 tests, and judging from recent speech he made at a military parade, Kim Jong Un appears defiant in increasing the country’s nuclear capabilities:

“We will continue to take steps to strengthen and develop out nation’s nuclear capabilities at the fastest pace,” he said, adding that their nuclear forces ‘must be ready’ to be exercised at any time, according to a report by the Official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Despite in the past proclaiming that the nuclear weapons would only ever be used in acts of self-defense, his speech indicated that this may not be the case. “The fundamental mission of our nuclear forces is to deter a war, but our nukes can never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent even at a time when a situation we are not desirous of at all is created on this land. If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission. The nuclear forces of our Republic should be fully prepared to fulfill their responsible mission and put their unique deterrent in motion at any time”.

Adversaries & Allies

The increase in nuclear weapons could be a direct response to increasing tensions with North Korea’s long-term adversaries – the united States and the republic of Korea.

The recent election of South Korea’s new president Yook Suk-yeol, who has voiced a harsher line on North Korea’s actions, has frayed relations between the countries who already have problematic history. In 2018, Kim Jong Un agreed a suspension on long-range ballistic missile tests and nuclear tests following talks with the then US president Donald Trump. Kim Jong Un announced he was no longer bound by his promise in 2020 when relations between the two countries seem to have become increasingly fraught since.

Coupled with this, Kim Jong Un has been displaying public support for Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, despite strong condemnation by the US ad its allies. North Korean state media published a recent letter sent from Kim Jong Un to Vladimir Putin, congratulating Russia on the occasion of its Victory day holiday. Within the letter Kim also send ‘solidarity to Russia’s peoples achievements’ that fundamentally aim to ‘eliminate’ political and military threats posed by ‘hostile forces’ and ‘protect the dignity, peace and security of the country’ adding that ‘friendly relations that’s strategic and tradition’ between North Korea and Russia will ‘strengthen and develop . . . with the demands of the times’.

It remains to be seen what Kim Jong Un’s next move will be. But judging from his recent activities, we can be certain it will be provocative and of a hostile nature. Until North Korea agree to cease it’s nuclear weapons program, the security of it’s neighboring countries and adversaries are at great risk. the world must unite and put a stop to the countries and organizations that continue to help the reckless and unruly regime fund it’s weapons program that threatens us all.

If you have any further information on organizations involved in sanction breaking activity, please get in touch with us at Pyongyang Papers.