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Harsher North Korea Sanctions Get Underway in China and South Korea

A North Korean freighter has been barred from a Chinese port and South Korea has cracked down on 70 individuals and companies linked to Pyongyang's weapons program.
A North Korea freighter enters South Korea's port of Incheon on November 16 2009. Photo by Yonhap/EPA

Read and watch more about North Korea in "March Madness," a VICE News special section on the Hermit Kingdom.

China has barred a North Korean freighter from one of its ports and South Korea has announced a crackdown on individuals and companies linked to Pyongyang's weapons program, stepping up sanctions against the isolated state — though "blind faith" in sanctions is irresponsible, Beijing said late on Monday.


North Korean general cargo ship Grand Karo arrived at Rizhao port in northeastern China a few days ago, but the port did not allow the ship to berth, said a person at the Rizhao Maritime Authority, declining to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The ship is among 31 vessels blacklisted by China's Ministry of Transport following harsher sanctions on North Korea approved by the UN Security Council last week.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch last month triggering a UN Security Council resolution and the tough new sanctions.

At least two other ships on the list of barred freighters are now sailing away after being anchored off Chinese ports, ship tracking data on the Reuters Eikon terminal showed on Tuesday.

Related: What Preparing for War Looks Like Inside North Korea

In the South Korean capital of Seoul, the government said on Tuesday it would impose new sanctions against 40 individuals and 30 entities because of suspected links to North Korea's weapons program and would ban vessels that had stopped at North Korean ports in the past 180 days.

"We will expand financial sanctions related to North Korea, including 38 North Korean individuals and 24 entities responsible for developing weapons of mass destruction, and two individuals and six entities of third countries that have indirectly supported the North," a statement issued jointly by several ministries said.


Seoul will ban those on the list from engaging in financial transactions with South Korean entities and freeze assets that are held in the country, the government said.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Tuesday that the Korean peninsula dispute needed "the right medicine for the illness" and that "blind faith in sanctions and pressure, actually, are not a responsible approach."

Independent experts have frequently questioned China's resolve to enforce sanctions against North Korea, whose economy is heavily dependent on China. But China has said it will enforce the measures "conscientiously."

Related: Why North Korea's Space Program Is Like a PlayStation 4

"At this time with the situation on the Korean peninsula, there are swords drawn and bows bent in mutual hostility, and the air is saturated with the taste of gunpowder," Wang said.

"As the largest neighboring country of the peninsula, China will not sit idly by and watch stability on the peninsula be destroyed on a basic level."

South Korean and US troops began large-scale military exercises on Monday in an annual test of their defenses against North Korea, which called the drills "nuclear war moves" and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

China has voiced opposition to discussions between South Korea and the United States on possible deployment of a new US anti-missile system to South Korea. China sees the terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as a threat to its strategic deterrence.

Meanwhile North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last week ordered his country to be ready to use nuclear weapons in the face of what he sees as growing threats from enemies.

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Read and watch more about North Korea in "March Madness," a VICE News special section on the Hermit Kingdom.

Related: The UN Security Council's New North Korea Sanctions Are All About China