Two Chinese arrested for selling spirits to North Korea

Two Chinese nationals stand accused of violating Japanese sanctions for selling banned goods to North Korea including bottles of whisky, brandy and other alcoholic beverages meant for an event in memory of the late former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The two suspects, a 41-year-old chief of a trading company and a 42-year-old board member of another company – both residing in Japan – are suspected of selling alcoholic drinks, condiments and shampoo to the hermit country via China, reported The Asahi Shumbun.

The duo have allegedly sent eight shippings worth about US$500,000 to North Korea between October 2014 and January 2016.

All of the goods were purchased online in Japan and were ostensibly shipped from Yokohama in Japan to Dalian, a northeastern Chinese port city bordering North Korea, but in fact were destined for North Korea.

Other items believed to have been shipped to North Korea by the suspects were gas cooking stoves, sauce for pork cutlets, soy sauce and ketchup.

The two are expected to be charged for violating the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act.

Japan banned the trade of luxury goods to North Korea including jewellery and cosmetics in 2006. The ban was later expanded in 2009 to include all commodities in response to North Korea’s aggressive nuclear and missile tests.

Recently, tensions on the Korean Peninsula seemed to have cooled. In a diplomatic breakthrough, North and South Korean athletes will march together at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony under a unified flag.

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