October 20, 2020 14:12
The Busan Port Authority has been discussing a development project for the North Korean port of Rajin-Sonbong since 2018. Discussions continued despite a ban investment in the North under UN sanctions and even after the North Korean regime blew up the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong in June.
According to BPA documents obtained by People Power Party lawmaker Kweon Seong-dong on Monday, a North Korean official acting on behalf of a Chinese shipping firm, whose president is Korean Chinese, asked the BPA in February 2018 if it was possible for the South Korean state company to support the development project.
A South Korean businessman identified as Yoo, who served on the government's advisory council on reunification and inter-Korean sports committee, also came on the scene.
In talks about the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018, Yoo discussed cooperation in the Rajin development with Chang Ung, the North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee.
Yoo then visited the BPA twice to ask if it was possible to help North Korea with port development and training of port officials. He also visited Beijing several times to discuss the plans with North Korean officials.
The BPA reported the approach to the National Intelligence Service and the Unification Ministry and has since handled it "carefully," according to the documents. On Aug. 27 this year, the BPA prepared a letter of intent for secret cooperation with the Chinese shipping firm.
The same day, the director of the shipping firm sent a letter to the BPA claiming that Rajin Port would be leased to his company for 49 years thanks to the "absolute trust" of the North Korean government and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The director added that he had accepted a proposal from the Rajin-Sonbong municipal government on July 21 this year to meet with the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong about the project. This would precede final approval from Kim Jong-un, he claimed. He attached photos of his signing of a contract with the municipal government.
On Aug. 28, the president of the BPA then approved the plan to sign the letter of intent, but because of some differences of views with North Korea it has not yet been signed, the BPA told lawmaker Kweon.
Meanwhile, the Unification Ministry said Monday that it will resume tours of the Joint Security Area in the truce village of Panmunjom on Nov. 4. The tours have been suspended for a year since an outbreak of African swine fever.
The decision comes less than a month after the brutal killing at sea of a North Korean official by North Korean soldiers.
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