◆ Petrol smuggled within bags of rice

There has also been active smuggling. In addition to ‘transshipment’, smuggling between ships at sea, it was discovered that shipments have been smuggled in overland from China.

A reporting partner in North Korea, who has been investigating the smuggling, revealed that, “In the northern region of Ryanggang province, plastic containers filled with gasoline were disguised in bags of rice and smuggled in as food. Several times, I witnessed large quantities of gasoline being transported in 10-ton trucks from China.”

According to the reporting partner, it is not individuals in North Korea who are importing the gasoline but several trading companies that have been approved by the Ryanggang Province Trading Bureau.

The reporting partner continued, “They also trade in cash, but they regularly smuggle out herbs used in traditional medicine. In return, the companies receive smuggled shipments of gasoline, disguised as rice.”

This way of smuggling gasoline was brought to a halt in February 2019, however, when Chinese authorities strengthened enforcement of the sanctions.

A cross-border trader living in China’s Jilin Province told ASIAPRESS, “We smuggled the gasoline in bags of rice- fooling even the Chinese border guards. However, things have since changed. When the Chinese authorities began inspecting exports more thoroughly, their attitude towards smuggling gasoline also became very strict. So two gasoline smugglers were arrested in early March. At the end of March, a businessman who was planning to smuggle 5 tons of gasoline in bags of rice into North Korea was also caught- he is still in custody.”

It is also reported that 3 women traders in Jilin Province were arrested and imprisoned in April for smuggling gasoline and diesel. (Kang Ji-won)

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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