S. Korea imposes sanctions on 11 N. Korean individuals after spy satellite launch

December 1, 2023

South Korea imposed unilateral sanctions Friday on 11 North Korean individuals involved in satellite and ballistic missile development, in response to the North’s launch of a military spy satellite last week, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.

The announcement came on the same day that the United States, Japan and Australia released their own sanctions against Pyongyang over the spy satellite launch, marking the first time for the four countries to impose sanctions on the reclusive regime around the same time.

The sanctions apply to five individuals, comprising Ri Chul-ju, deputy director of the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA), Kim In-bum, Ko Kwan-yong and Choe Myong-su — all NATA employees — and Kang Son, a manager from the Ryongsong Machine Complex.

NATA is known to have led the project to build and launch the Malligyong-1 military reconnaissance satellite and the Chollima-1 rocket, its space launch vehicle.

Also on the list are Lt. Gen. Kim Chun-kyo of the Korean People’s Army, Choi Il-hwan and Choi Myong-chol, both of whom are deputy directors of the North’s Munitions Industry Department; and Jin Su-nam, also known as Sin Kyu-nam, a third secretary stationed in the North Korean Embassy in Russia.

Two others are Kim Yong-hwan, head of the 727 Research Institute, and Choi Byong-wan, manager at the Taesung Machine Factory.

They are accused of involvement in the research and development related to and operations of ballistic missiles.

North Korea is banned from any launches using ballistic missile technology under multiple U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions.

Friday’s announcement came in tandem with a series of sanctions against North Korea by the U.S., Japan and Australia.

“It is significant that the governments of South Korea, the United States, Japan and Australia imposed sanctions in succession on the same date for the first time,” Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a release.

“Australia’s participation for the first time in the designation of independent sanctions by South Korea, the U.S. and Japan demonstrates that the international community is bolstering the commitment that it will not sit idly by over North Korea’s repeated provocations,” the ministry said.

Hours earlier, the U.S. Department of the Treasury said it sanctioned Kimsuky, a North Korean cyber espionage group, and eight foreign-based agents of the reclusive regime in response to Pyongyang’s spy satellite launch.

Japan slapped sanctions on five individuals and four groups, including Kimsuky. Australia imposed sanctions on seven individuals and one entity.

South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have imposed sanctions against the North at the same time in December 2022 and in September this year.

The sanctions are pursuant to South Korean laws on foreign exchange transactions and prohibition against financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,

Under the sanctions, anyone seeking to have financial deals with those on the sanctions list is required to get approval from the chief of the Bank of Korea or the country’s financial authorities.

The latest independent sanctions designation against Pyongyang is the 13th of its kind under the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol. It raises the total numbers of sanctioned North Korean individuals and institutions to 75 and 53, respectively.