As there are no financial transactions between the two Koreas, this symbolic move that prohibits South Koreans conducting business with them was mostly symbolic. The North Korean reaction to the steps could be irritated. It called Yoon Suk Yeol, the South Korean president, and his government “idiots” last month after Seoul suggested it was considering imposing more unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang.
Shortly after the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it had sanctioned three members North Korea’s Workers’ Party, the Treasury Department also announced the sanctions against South Korea. These individuals were responsible for supporting the country’s development nuclear and ballistic weaponry.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry stated that Seoul’s sanctions were in response the North’s increasing weapons threat. This was highlighted by the testing of an intercontinental missile last month, which demonstrated its potential range to reach the U.S. continent.
According to the ministry, the eight individuals and seven companies that Seoul targeted had been sanctioned by Washington. They were involved in various North Korean attempts to evade United Nations Security Council sanctions to fund its weapons program. This included ship-to-ship fuel transfers and illegal labor exports.
Six officials from four North Korean banks were included on the list, as well as a Taiwanese national called Chen Shih Huan and a Singaporean named Kwek Seung. The four sanctioned companies were North Korean shipping and trade firms, while the three other were Singapore-based shipping businesses.
The ministry released a statement saying that “(our) government has been keeping close coordination with Japan and the United States so that the same individuals or groups are placed under unilateral sanctions of related countries to raise awareness of the international community”
South Korea placed sanctions on October 15 people and 16 organisations accused of supporting North Korea’s arms development. These were Seoul’s first unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang for five years.
North Korea increased its weapon demonstrations at a record speed this year. It tested dozens of missiles, including ICBMs. As it used the distraction from Russia’s war against Ukraine, it was able to further its weapons program, and increase pressure on Washington.
Officials from the U.S., South Korea and Japan have both stated that there are indications that North Korea is planning to carry out its first nuclear test since September 2017. Experts believe this would increase a brinkmanship strategy that aims to force the United States into accepting the North’s status as a nuclear power and negotiate concessions from a position in which they are strong.
Russia and China rejected a U.S.-led effort in May to increase sanctions against North Korea for its earlier ballistic test. This demonstrates the deepening divisions between permanent members of the Security Council, which was exacerbated by Russia’s invasion Ukraine. Experts believe that the North’s seventh nuclear test will be its first. This would mean the Security Council is unlikely to respond to it with new punitive actions.