May 09, 2018 12:45
An official at Room 39, a North Korean agency tasked with earning valuta for leader Kim Jong-un's private coffers, has admitted that international sanctions are having a crippling effect.
In an article in the December edition of a Workers Party newsletter, Ri Chol-ho wrote foreign traders "have refused to engage in trade, because they are unable to export any food-production equipment or materials due to measures taken by their respective governments who are adhering to U.S. imperialist sanction resolutions."
He also revealed that gas stations were forced to close down due to sanctions. "Just take for example [gas stations], which have halted [sales] due to sanctions imposed by the enemy," Ri said.
In December of last year, the UN Security Council passed a resolution limiting crude oil supply to North Korea to just 4 million barrels a year, and reducing refined petroleum exports from 4.5 million to just 500,000 barrels a year.
Ri wrote that gas stations operated by the agency remain open due to "a shift to a strategy of purchasing oil domestically in order to crush the blockade scheme of our enemies."
That seems an implausible claim since North Korea has no oil resources, but a source explained, "What he meant is that gas stations remained opened by selling smuggled gasoline and diesel."
The source added, "the agency essentially told other agencies how to smuggle in goods, and use fictitious names and bank accounts under borrowed names to raise hard currency illegally."
One North Korean defector who used to work for Room 39 said, "North Korea turned state-run companies and trading companies into smaller entities owned by individuals to evade sanctions."
Meanwhile, North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri claimed Tuesday that "Kim Jong-un syndrome" is sweeping through South Korea since the recent inter-Korean summit.
It added that South Korean websites are filled with comments from people saying they gained a fresh perspective on Kim's leadership ability.
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