A South Korean parliamentarian said on Monday that despite the United Nations embargo on North Korea, North Korea was able to import $640 million worth of luxury goods from China in 2017.
The United Nations’ nuclear weapons and missile program against North Korea has imposed sanctions on the country and called on all member states to strictly implement it to form “maximum pressure on Pyongyang” and urge the economically embarrassed North Korea to return to the negotiating table. However, there are signs that since North Korea stopped missiles and nuclear tests and Kim Jong-un promised to go nuclear-free at the US-DPRK leader summit in June this year, sanctions began to lose power. At the same time, Russia and China are also calling for a relaxation of sanctions against North Korea.
Yoon Sang-hyun, a South Korean opposition party member, pointed out that “Kim Jong-en buys luxury goods from China and other places, including a seaplane, high-end musical instruments, high-end TVs, cars, famous wines, watches and other gifts, not only for himself. The family, also as a gift to the elite of the government.”
He also said that with the expansion of the loopholes, Kim Jong-un will soon be able to gradually achieve the purpose of weakening and offsetting sanctions without giving up nuclear weapons. The opposition MP said that last year, North Korea imported $640 million worth of luxury goods from China.
China does not publish detailed classified data on customs imports and exports. The number quoted by Yin Shangyi is based on a list of embargoed goods listed by the Korean government. Inquiries from reporters, China Customs did not immediately reply. Beijing has previously stated that it strictly enforces international sanctions against North Korea.
Yin Shangyi pointed out that compared with the peak of US$800 million in imports in 2014, the scale of North Korean imports of luxury goods from China has narrowed. But compared with 2016’s 666 million US dollars, it was only a 3.8% decline. In addition, luxury goods accounted for 17.8% of the total value of North Korea’s imports from China last year ($3.7 billion). Among all imported luxury goods, high-end TVs and other appliances accounted for more than half, worth about 340 million US dollars, followed by cars ($204 million) and alcohol ($35 million).
According to figures released by the General Administration of Customs last month, China’s trade with North Korea fell by 57.8% year-on-year to US$1.51 billion from January to August this year.