Seoul ‘Selective and Inconsistent’ on Sanctions Against North Korea

South Korea failed to notify a U.N. sanctions committee when it sent about 300 tonnes of petroleum products to North Korea in 2018, the website NK News reported on Wednesday, suggesting South Korea was slipping on sanctions.

Seoul has urged the partial easing of U.N. Security Council sanctions at a time of improving ties with the North, as Washington continues to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons and missile programs, Reuters writes.

“Seoul has chosen to implement UNSC sanctions on North Korea on a selective and often inconsistent basis,” NK News, a group that follows North Korea, said in a report on its website, citing its analysis.

South Korea sent 342.9 tonnes of petroleum products to North Korea in 2018, according to the South’s Ministry of Unification, but NK News said the shipments were not reported to the United Nations. South Korea’s government said on Wednesday it was “complying with the framework of sanctions on North Korea” while pursuing exchange and cooperative projects with the North.

“We only used petroleum products to carry out joint inter-Korean projects, and our view is that this does not harm the purpose of sanctions on North Korea,” the foreign ministry said.

Under UNSC resolution 2397, adopted in 2017, member states must notify a sanctions committee every 30 days of the amount of refined petroleum products supplied, sold or transferred to North Korea.

The U.N. sanction allows up to 500,000 barrels (73,087 tonnes) of refined petroleum products per year from all U.N. member nations to be supplied, sold or transferred to the North.

Meanwhile, as relations between the two sides are getting warmer, South China Morning Post writes that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has handed out South Korea-made cosmetics to party officials as a New Year’s gift.

The Chosun daily, citing a source, said financial officials from the North’s ruling party bought 1,000 sets of South Korean cosmetics at Yanbian Korea autonomous prefecture in China’s northeastern province of Jilin in November.

They paid in dollar bills for the cosmetics, which were given to officials of the ruling party’s (decision-making) Central Committee as New Year gifts from Kim, the source was quoted as saying. The transaction became known when these rare gifts started being sold at North Korean marketplaces by the beneficiaries’ families, according to the report.

In North Korea, it is customary to bribe elites with gifts on key anniversaries, including the birthdays of late leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, to secure loyalty to the Kim dynasty.

Gifts include drinks, candies, beef and pork, and wrist watches. Kim Jong-un reportedly gave each of his 100 military generals a Swiss-made watch in May 2016 at a Workers Party congress.

North Korea has its own top cosmetic brands, such as Unhasu, but South Korean products are much more popular among the rich and powerful, according to defectors from the North.

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