The Korea Herald

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S. Korea sanctions N. Korean drone maker

By Choi Si-young

Published : Sept. 1, 2023 - 14:52

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The flags of South Korea (left) and North Korea. (123rf) The flags of South Korea (left) and North Korea. (123rf)

South Korea has rolled out sanctions on North Korea’s company and workers there for developing weapons including drones and using IT staff to bankroll the country’s weapons programs -- the latest ban aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s aggression.

The Foreign Ministry in Seoul said Friday that any exchanges with Ryugyong, the firm, and its five employees -- the chief and four other senior officials -- will result in punishment unless they are approved in advance by authorities.

The ban comes a week after the North, which has been under United Nations sanctions for its nuclear and weapons programs, failed to put into orbit what it claimed was a spy satellite. The second attempt in about three months is a violation of existing UN sanctions, as they ban launches using ballistic missile technology. The North warned of a third launch soon.

Friday’s ban is to prevent Pyongyang from using such a test as a cover for advancing its missile technology, the ministry said, stressing that Seoul will help build a stronger international coalition on the North.

A day ago, the North fired off two ballistic missiles toward the East Sea. That was a retaliation for the joint drills this month by South Korea and the US and a bomber the US dispatched, the North said, calling the exercise a rehearsal for invasion.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ignored calls for resuming disarmament talks, saying Washington has to first drop its North Korea policy, which Kim says is hostile. Disarmament negotiations last took place in October 2019, only to collapse because the two sides could not find a middle ground.

Momentum for diplomacy is low. President Yoon Suk Yeol has been pushing for a harder line on North Korea since May last year when it took over, saying the Kim regime has to return to talks without preconditions. The Yoon administration has touted its nuclear deal with the US in April, a pact that gives Seoul more say in how America manages its nuclear assets.