News / Asia

    South Korea Sanctions Halt Russian Rail Project with North Korea

    FILE - A member of the North Korean military looks at a train with Russian workers, who are going to help in the reconstruction of the Rajin-Khasan Railway. South Korea will halt the trilateral project to develop a train system to transport Russian Siberian coal to North Korea’s port in Hassan and then to South Korea by ship.
    FILE - A member of the North Korean military looks at a train with Russian workers, who are going to help in the reconstruction of the Rajin-Khasan Railway. South Korea will halt the trilateral project to develop a train system to transport Russian Siberian coal to North Korea’s port in Hassan and then to South Korea by ship.
    Brian Padden

    South Korea imposed new unilateral sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday as Seoul’s spy agency blames Pyongyang hackers for recent cyber attacks.

    These latest developments could further fuel heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula triggered by North Korea’s recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

    Closing Russian loophole

    The new South Korean measures will add to the recently adopted United Nations Security Council resolution that imposed tough new international sanctions on North Korea.

    In a move that may frustrate Russia, South Korea will halt the trilateral “Rajin-Hassan Project” to develop a train system to transport Russian Siberian coal to North Korea’s port in Hassan and then to South Korea by ship.

    Before agreeing to support the U.N. sanctions, Russia leveraged its veto power as a member of the Security Council to ensure the resolution would not block exports of Siberian coal to North Korea.

    FILE - The United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution during a meeting at U.N. headquarters, March 2, 2016.
    FILE - The United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution during a meeting at U.N. headquarters, March 2, 2016.

    South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Russian leader Vladimir Putin signed an agreement in 2013 to cooperate on the project.

    Russia reportedly expressed regret at Seoul's decision.

    South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said the decision to end Seoul’s participation in the project was made in close consultation with Moscow.

    “Between South Korea and Russia, the heads of the two countries have established trust, and have maintained diplomatic communications,” he said.

    Expanding UN sanctions

    The recent U.N. sanctions require member states to conduct mandatory inspections of all North Korean cargo to search for prohibited materials, and to ban entry and financial transactions with 16 North Korean individuals and 12 private companies or government organizations linked to country’s arms trade or nuclear program.

    The Philippines last week impounded a cargo ship linked to a company blacklisted in the U.N. resolution, the Pyongyang-based Ocean Maritime Management Co.

    The new South Korean sanctions blacklist additional North Koreans or representatives from other countries and institutions linked to the North for their involvement in past illicit trade.

    “We will ban foreign currency and financial exchange between these subjects and our citizens and freeze their assets in our country," said Lee Suk-joon, the South Korean Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination.

    The measures will institute new import controls to increase the interdiction of North Korean goods coming from third party countries like China.

    The Seoul government will go further than the U.N. sanctions in banning ships from any nation that visited North Korea or are suspected of being owned by the sanctioned state.

    Crew members are seen on the 6,700-tonne freighter Mu Du Bong in the port of Tuxpan, April 9, 2015.
    Crew members are seen on the 6,700-tonne freighter Mu Du Bong in the port of Tuxpan, April 9, 2015.

    South Korea already imposed sanctions in 2010 that ban North Korean vessels from ports in the South and severed most economic ties in retaliation for the sinking of a South Korean navy ship.

    Most of the new South Korean sanctions will likely have limited direct economic impact, especially after Seoul closed the last remaining joint economic program, the Kaesong Industrial Complex that employed over 54,000 North Koreans.

    But these new measures could strain ties with countries like Russia and force other countries to either cut most economic trade with the penalized North or lose access to the richer and more advanced economy of the South.

    “It is sad that there will be a crack in relation between South Korea and Russia, but it is an unavoidable measure,” said analyst Ahn Chan-il, with the World Institute for North Korean studies.

    Cyber attacks

    South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) accused North Korea of orchestrating a series of cyber attacks that targeted government officials and that sought to disrupt railway traffic control systems.

    The NIS released a statement Tuesday that said the North stole phone numbers and texts from the smartphones of dozens of key South Korean officials between late February and early March.

    The spy agency say the North Korean hackers were attempting to infect the smartphones with malware to capture the phone numbers of other government officials.

    It also accused the North of trying to hack into the server of a major software firm specializing in providing security software for Internet banking.

    And the NIS said North Korean hackers attempted to steal the email account details and passwords of two provincial railway operators by sending them malware infected email messages in January and February of this year.

    While these cyber attacks were either blocked or discovered in the early stages, the NIS said they had the potential to do serious harm to the economy and national security.

    FILE - A woman walks by a sign at Cyber Terror Response Center of National Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea.
    FILE - A woman walks by a sign at Cyber Terror Response Center of National Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea.

    The accusations of North Korean cyber attacks come at the same time President Park is pressing the National Assembly to pass a new anti-cyber terror law.

    The main opposition Minjoo Party said the government has exaggerated the cyber threat to secure surveillance powers for the NIS that could be used against political opponents.

    Seoul blamed North Korean hackers for past cyber-attacks targeting military institutions, banks, government agencies, TV broadcasters and a nuclear power plant.

    The United States also said the North was behind a damaging cyber-attack on Sony's Hollywood film unit over its controversial North Korea-themed satirical film The Interview in 2014.

    North Korea has denied any involvement in past cyber attacks.

    Youmi Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    March 08, 2016 8:44 AM
    It looks like North Korea will not be able to deliver nuclear weapons to attack South Korea by train. It will have to find another method.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora