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A company in Singapore exports luxury goods to N. Korea

Posted July. 19, 2017 07:25,   

Updated July. 19, 2017 07:32


A trading company "A" in Singapore has turned out to have transited luxury goods to be sold in Pyongyang’s luxury stores via China and other countries. Some manufacturers did not aware that their products were exported to North Korea. The UN Security Council has banned North Korea’s trading of strategic materials and luxury goods through its resolutions on North Korea in an effort to impose sanctions on the country. The UN sanctions have shown too many loopholes, however.

NK Pro, a premium news service of an independent North Korea monitoring group NK NEWS, released a report on Monday and said the company A imported "POKKA Coffee" from Japan and exported it back to China to bring the product into North Korea since 2012. Japan barred its companies from exporting their products to North Korea five years ago. Company A switched the invoice at a port of call in China to pretend its items were the ones for trading between China and North Korea, which is a traditional method to hide final destinations.

The NK Pro report made a connection to Singapore-based trader A bringing in a substantial amount of goods into North Korea department store and it was a violation of the UN Security Council. A spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the government will implement a strict investigation on any illegal activities of individuals and organizations that take place in Singapore.

NK Pro covered the case for about the past one year and Justin Rohrlich who disclosed the story told the Dong-A Ilbo on Tuesday, “Company A’s illegal trade has been confirmed by the statement of North Korean officials and document study of Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, although the company denies its allegations.” He also said, “There is much of the company’s relevance considering that it is located only 400 meters away from the North Korean Embassy in Singapore.”

There will be growing dissatisfaction of global companies whose luxury goods are brought into North Korea from company A. The Pothonggang Ryugyong Shop, one of two luxury departments in Pyongyang, which sells products banned by the UN after secretly brining in the products, displays Montblanc watches priced at about 4.74 million won. However, Richemont Luxury, the Singaporean headquarters of Montblanc, said it never provided its products to company A.

Ja-Ryong Koo bonhong@donga.com · Gi-Jae Han record@donga.com