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Pyongyang sells triple the fishing rights to China

Cash is the motive but both South and North fishermen are suffering

July 04,2016
North Korea raked in about $30 million so far this year from China by selling rights to fish in its waters as it seeks a way around crushing international sanctions after its fourth nuclear test and a long-range missile test, South Korea’s intelligence agency reported Friday.

In its regular report to members of the parliamentary intelligence committee, National Intelligence Service chief Lee Byung-ho said North Korea has earned $30 million this year by tripling the fishing rights sold to the Chinese in a move to alleviate the pains felt from United Nations-led sanctions imposed since March.

“In an effort to earn U.S. dollars, the North sold fishing rights to around 1,500 Chinese fishing vessels, three times the average year,” NIS chief Lee was quoted as saying by Rep. Lee Cheol-woo of the ruling Saenuri Party, who chairs the committee.

The NIS reported that both South and North Korean fishermen are affected by pollution from the release of waste by the Chinese and a decline in their own catches, which had led to “growing complaints” from both sides, Lee said.

Chinese vessels have increasingly been fishing illegally in South Korean territorial waters as well as in the inter-Korean neutral area of the Han River estuary. Chased by the South Korean Coast Guard, the Chinese vessels have often sought shelter in North Korean territorial waters, raising speculation they are taking advantage of their deal with North Korea.

Seoul issued an official request to Beijing to take measures against vessels illegally fishing in South Korean waters last month during an 18th bilateral director general meeting on consular affairs in Beijing.

Pyongyang’s already isolated-economy has been further squeezed by the toughest UN sanctions ever.

According to lawmakers debriefed by the intelligence chief, the North has seen a 40 percent plunge in its coal exports and an 88 percent plunge in arms exports.

The NIS is also said to have reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave an order to diplomatic posts overseas that they make sure foreign media articles about him never made their way into the reclusive state. The NIS reported the order was made in the aftermath of an interview by the Washington Post with Ko Yong-suk, Kim’s maternal aunt, and her husband Ri Gang, both of whom have lived in the United States since 1998. The interview was published in April.

Ko, the sister of late Ko Yong-hui, the mother of Kim Jong-un, who died of breast cancer in 2004, said in the interview though Kim “wasn’t a trouble maker,” he was “short-tempered and had a lack of tolerance.”

The aunt, who reportedly runs a dry cleaning shop in an undisclosed location in the U.S., also said Kim could not have grown up as a normal kid given his background.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]


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