South Korea Intensifies North Korean Sanctions — Country Targeting Private Companies And Citizens?

South Korea intensified North Korean sanctions by severing the last remaining business and commerce ties. In response to the recent indications of persistent aggression by the North, South Korea won’t do business with the companies that it suspects were involved in the nuclear tests.

In response to threats about imminent nuclear strikes on America and its allies, which include South Korea, the southern neighbor of the communist country has announced unilateral sanctions against North Korea. South Korea has effectively shuttered last of its remaining links of commerce with North Korean companies. The country appears to have blacklisted dozens of individuals and companies it suspects were involved in North Korea’s missile development and nuclear programs.

South Korea has confirmed it would impose new and harsher sanctions against 40 individuals, which includes 38 North Korean officials and two foreigners, and 30 organizations, of which 24 are based in Pyongyang. These people and organizations have been known to work for North Korea’s weapons program, claims the South. As an added measure, South Korea said it would ban vessels that had stopped at North Korean ports in the past 180 days. The announcement came after Pyongyang threatened to launch nuclear strikes on the United States and South Korea, as the two countries started their annual joint military drills Monday, reported USA Today.

What do the sanctions entitle? The blacklisted individuals and organizations will be barred from financial dealings with South Korean banks. The country is expected to freeze the assets of the entities as well. Furthermore, ships that have traveled to or originated from North Korea in the past six months won’t be allowed to enter South Korean waters and won’t be permitted to dock into South Korean ports.

South Korea has always imposed strict control on all interactions its citizens have with those of North Korea. Incidentally, the ban on the individuals includes one Singaporean and one Taiwanese businessman with links to North Korea, indicated a statement from South Korea’s Prime Minister.

South Korea may have chosen to effectively derail or terminate a project which involved delivery of large quantities of coal from a North Korean port, reported Yahoo. The special project was initiated with the agenda of developing the North Korean port of Rajin. It involved loading coal sent from Russia on to ships bound for South Korea, reported The Wall Street Journal. However, by barring all ships coming in from North Korea, the South has ensured that the development of the port comes to a grinding halt.

South Korea has been a strong supporter of harsher sanctions against North Korea, ever since the latter conducted a nuclear test, its sixth to date, on January 6. Subsequently the country even fired a long range rocket into space. While North Korea insists that it sent a peaceful “earth observation satellite,” many other countries, like South Korea, Japan, and the United States, feel the launch was merely a ruse and that North Korea intended to test an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Incidentally, third-party satellite tracking companies have verified that a North Korean satellite has indeed been placed in an orbit above the earth, but can’t confirm if it is transmitting data.

There appears to be another reason why South Korea is insisting on stricter sanctions. South Korea’s spy agency provided further details of its accusation of North Korean hacking attacks first disclosed Monday, reported the Wall Street Journal. South Korea claims North Korean hackers stole phone numbers and text messages from the smartphones of dozens of South Korean officials in the month of February and March. These hackers also allegedly attacked the server of a company that offers critical security software to the South Korean banking sector.

No wonder, then, South Korean President Park Geun-hye has called for “bone-numbing” penalties to be imposed on North Korea. The South has already shuttered a major industrial park the two estranged neighbors were jointly operating.

[Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]