A North Korean university could be in trouble after trying to secretly procure South Korean supplies and the nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un, expressed anger over the state-banned activity.
South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported Tuesday that Pyongyang Medical University could face “serious consequences” after North Korean authorities said the institution was attempting to procure supplies via a state-sanctioned trading company.
Pyongyang Medical University came under heavy criticism from the North Korean leader during Sunday’s expanded meeting of the politburo of the Korean Workers’ Party.
KCNA reported Kim had said the university “committed serious criminal acts,” and that the “irresponsibility and extreme negligence” of security agencies contributed to “anti-socialist activity.” The specific crimes were not mentioned in state media.
According to the Donga Ilbo, the university’s smuggling in of South Korean supplies was brought to light during border inspections in August. Customs officials of the North Korean city of Sinuiju conducted an investigation, and trading firms have been dissolved as the state metes out “heavy punishment,” the newspaper’s sources said.
South Korean representatives of aid groups who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Donga North Korean trading firms face serious pressure to meet demands. Some firms under pressure smuggle in South Korean supplies while passing them off as Chinese goods, they said.
North Korea is heavily reliant on China for trade, and Beijing and Moscow are coming under international scrutiny after a statement from the United Nations.
German U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, chairman of the U.N. North Korea sanctions committee, said Tuesday that China and Russia are interfering with monitors of North Korean imports.
China and Russia have reported their refined petroleum exports to North Korea in tons rather than barrels, making it difficult for the committee to determine whether a sanctions limit had been reached, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.
North Korea may have imported up to 1.6 million barrels of refined petroleum from January to May, according to an interim report from the U.N. The U.N. prohibits most refined petroleum exports to North Korea, capping them at 500,000 barrels a year.