Can Seoul Avoid Violating Sanctions with Inter-Korean Events?

By Kim Jin-myung, Hong Jun-ki | January 29, 2018 10:42

South Korea is in danger of violating international sanctions against North Korea if it too eagerly rolls out the red carpet for North Korea at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The Unification Ministry wants to ship some 10,000 liters or 63 barrels of diesel fuel to the North's Mt. Kumgang resort for a cultural event there on Feb. 4. But exports of diesel to the North are strictly limited under UN Security Council sanctions. and completely banned under separate U.S. sanctions.

Under the U.S.' North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act signed by President Donald Trump last August, the U.S. president can designate any person or agent that knowingly sells, delivers, or supplies crude oil, light oil products, refined petroleum, or natural gas to the North Korean government directly or indirectly as subject to sanctions.

Even if Trump grants an exception in this case, Congress could slam a brake on the process.

A South Korean delegation arrives at Kalma airport in Wonsan, Kangwon Province in North Korea last week, in this photo from the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Saturday. /Yonhap

But the North says that it cannot guarantee stable power supply for the event and that the event venue actually belongs to Hyundai Asan, which was kicked out of the North when the company's package tours to Mt. Kumgang stopped in 2008.

Sanctions could also be violated if the South lavishes too much money on transportation and accommodation for the North Korean delegation and army of cheerleaders. And the South Korean government is going to airlift South Korean skiers to the North so that they can take part in joint training at the Masikryong Ski Resort.

South Korean aircraft have to pay an airspace transit fee if they fly to Kalma Airport and airport usage fees. If it pays cash, the money could also violate sanctions, which prohibit UN members from delivering bulk cash to the regime, which could divert it to its nuclear and missile programs.

Separate U.S. sanctions also ban delivery of cash to the regime. 

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