S. Korea allows seafood imports from N. Korea
South Korea has recently allowed fish imports from North Korea, government officials said Sunday, a first since it imposed sanctions on the communist state following its deadly military provocations in 2010.
Forty tons of scallops, an amount worth US$100,000, were shipped through the Port of Sokcho on the eastern border in mid-June upon the request of three South Korean firms, said officials at the unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.
It is the first time the South Korean government has approved North Korean imports since it banned most new investments in the communist neighbor under its sanctions imposed over the North's sinking of a South Korean warship in March 2010.
The three firms were allowed to receive the goods as they succeeded in negotiations with their North Korean trading partners, ministry officials said. They noted the decision does not violate the May 2010 sanction that bans new investment as the payments were made before the sanction took effect.
"The government approved (the imports) taking into consideration North Korea's supply capacity, effects on the market and possibilities of conflicts between the companies," a ministry official said. "As they did not send money to North Korea after the sanctions, the decision does violate the sanctions."
Seoul blames Pyongyang for the March 2010 sinking of the Korean warship Cheonan and the artillery shelling of the front-line island of Yeonpyeong, which killed a total of 50 South Koreans.
Despite lingering tensions and economic sanctions, the two divided Koreas continue to maintain their joint industrial complex in the North's western border city of Kaesong, which serves as a key legitimate cash cow for the North.
Trade between South and North Korea reached $1.71 billion last year, down 10 percent from 2010, according to government data. (Yonhap)