News / Asia

    Seoul Considers Dropping North Korea Sanctions

    Ahn Hong-joon, chairman of the South Korean National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee and lawmakers watch North Korean workers during a visit to a factory in the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea, Oct. 30, 2013.
    Ahn Hong-joon, chairman of the South Korean National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee and lawmakers watch North Korean workers during a visit to a factory in the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea, Oct. 30, 2013.
    Daniel Schearf
    South Korea says is debating lifting sanctions imposed on North Korea after the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship. South Korea's opposition argues the trade limits originally aimed at punishing North Korea for sinking the ship are also hurting South Korea.

    South Korea's top official on North Korea relations says the government is considering calls to end the punitive sanctions. Known as the “May 24th sanctions,” they ban all trade and investment with the North. The only exception to the sanctions is the joint Kaesong industrial park, where production was allowed but expansion confined.
     
    The trade restrictions were imposed as punishment after public outrage over the 2010 sinking of the Cheonnan, a South Korean warship. Seoul blamed a North Korean submarine for torpedoing the ship, killing 46 sailors on board.
     
    But on Friday South Korea's Unification Minister, Ryoo Kihl-jae, said the government was examining the possibility of lifting the sanctions.
     
    "Public opinion on lifting the May 24th measures is divided.  A big decision by the government can be considered but they first need to take a look at the situation," he said.
     
    Ryoo made the comment in testimony to South Korea's lawmaking body, the National Assembly.
     
    Jung Cheong-rae, an opposition Democratic Party representative, called for the trade limits on North Korea to be removed. He told lawmakers the restrictions had cost South Korea's economy billions of dollars in estimated lost trade.
     
    "The May 24th measures have caused almost $9 billion in damage to South Korea's economy while North Korea's damage is measured at $2.25 billion. So, the harm to South Korea is four times larger than that to North Korea," he said.
     
    Jung was citing a report by the private think tank Hyundai Research Institute. The Democratic Party supports trade and engagement with North Korea and was a principle critic of the sanctions.
     
    South Korean businesses say their absence in the North allowed Chinese companies to take over projects that they were forced to abandon.
     
    And while inter-Korean trade fluctuated, China's trade with the North rose to new highs.
     
    Lim Wan-keun is chairman of the Inter-Korea Economic Association. He says South Korean businesses also lost relationships in the North that were difficult to develop because of ongoing tensions.
     
    "North Korea did not have big losses because they can just sell products at low cost and everything goes to China. However, South Korea stopped importing fisheries and agricultural products [from North Korea] so now it buys low quality Chinese products.  Those business related to North Korea collapsed, laying off workers and suffering huge losses," he said.
     
    Lim says the two Koreas need to maintain communication channels even if relations are suffering. He says keeping a variety of players involved in dialogue, not just politicians, helps to minimize economic losses and improve relations.
     
    Although South Korea appears to have a larger cost from the sanctions, its economy, measured by gross national income, is 38 times that of North Korea. So, it is much easier for Seoul to absorb the costs of sanctions than Pyongyang.
     
    Although inter-Korean trade dropped by about 10 percent the year after the limits were in place, the Kaesong factory zone helped trade volumes quickly recover.
                     
    It is not clear how useful the sanctions have been in shaping North Korea's behavior. Just months after they were imposed Pyongyang shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.
     
    North Korea continues to occasionally threaten attacks on South Korea, develop ballistic missiles, and in February tested its third and largest nuclear device. However in recent months relations have slightly warmed, and their jointly-run Kaesong factory complex was re-opened in September.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Not Jimmy from: Seoul
    November 03, 2013 9:28 PM
    "However in recent months relations have slightly warmed, and their jointly-run Kaesong factory complex was re-opened in September."

    Given the past several decades of North Korean shenannigans, there is no evidence of actual change. This is a lull in North Korea's entirely predictable cycle of threats and apologies. This has allowed the current regime to maintain power, but it is somewhat decaying.

    There is a more subtle and gradual change. Two things are flowing into North Korea at an increasing rate, information and foreign currency. Power will move, and things will change.

    by: Dorothy from: Nebraska
    November 03, 2013 2:04 AM
    It seems surprising that the South Korean government is considering lifting sanctions, since only recently North Korea unilaterally stopped trading at a jointly operated site and forced South Korean merchants to return to their home nation. It really requires two sides to make peace.
    In Response

    by: SrWilliam.
    November 03, 2013 3:41 PM
    It is a shame they do not respect the 46 Sailors that were killed.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora