South Korea urges Russia to help sanction North Korea over satellite, labour exports

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – Russia should help impose new sanctions against North Korea over its recent launch of a spy satellite and enforce existing bans on the isolated country’s labour exports, a senior South Korean official said on Tuesday.

South Korea’s unification minister Kim Yung-ho, in charge of inter-Korean ties, said last month’s satellite launch violated U.N. Security Council resolutions banning North Korea’s use of ballistic technology, but Russia has been “extremely passive” in further sanctioning Pyongyang.

There are “clear signs” of military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow, and Seoul is also looking into whether Russia has accepted more North Korean workers in defiance of U.N. resolutions, Kim said.

“As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia has responsibility to faithfully implement its sanctions resolutions,” he told a news conference.

South Korea’s intelligence agency said last month the North had received Russian aid for the satellite launch, which was its third attempt after two failed tries.

Following leader Kim Jong Un’s rare trip to Russia in September, North Korea has sent hundreds of construction and other workers to the Russian Far East to earn foreign currency, South Korea’s Donga Ilbo newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified government officials.

Minister Kim also urged China to play a better role in sanctioning North Korea over its weapons development, and complying with international norms not to forcibly repatriate North Korean defectors.

South Korean activists said last week that up to 600 North Koreans have “vanished” after being deported by China in October, in what could be the largest such mass repatriation in years.

Kim also said the increasing public appearances and levels of protocol for Kim Ju Ae, the daughter of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, could be aimed at laying groundwork for a future succession.

Since her debut in November 2022, she has appeared in state media 19 times, mostly accompanying her father at military events, he said.

“The possibility of her becoming a successor cannot be ruled out,” Kim said. “By putting her on the public stage early, they might be trying to show their resolve for a fourth generation hereditary succession.”

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Kim Coghill)