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North ship to leave Hong Kong in 2-3 days

Jan 04,2007
HONG KONG ― A North Korean cargo ship detained here last October for safety violations is apparently going to be released within a few days, according to remarks by the ship’s captain.
The seafarer, who refused to give his name, told a reporter Wednesday that he expected to sail his ship, the Kang Nam, back to North Korea in two or three days.
An official at the ship’s agency here, Topping Enterprise, said the payment for repairs required to meet Hong Kong safety standards had been received recently, allowing port officials to release the ship.
Unsaid by either the captain or the agent was that the underlying reason for the ship’s detention in the first place was a search for contraband. The decision to search the ship was in line with recent United Nations sanctions on shipments by North Korea of sensitive military or nuclear-related cargo.
The sanctions also include a ban on trade in luxury goods with North Korea.
Seoul has been urged to join a U.S.-led effort to tighten enforcement of the ban on those types of North Korean international commerce, but has refused for fear of further straining North-South Korea relations.
The ship’s captain refused to say whether his ship had been searched for material prohibited under the terms of the UN sanctions resolution, but was defiant in sending a political message.
“The world is clamping down on us, but we can overcome that. I hope that the two Koreas can reconcile, and let’s hope that in the new year things similar to this will not happen again,” he said.
The ship’s crew had been fed by the vessel’s Hong Kong agents during their enforced stay tied up to a dock in this capitalist mecca, but had refused any other kind of outside help while in port.
The cost of the necessary repairs and port charges for the 70-day stay were estimated at about $40,000.


by Choi Hyung-kyu


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