Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 10: The First Shoe Drops

Japan and Australia have imposed sanctions on a series of the companies Kim Jong Il uses to collect foreign currency and dual-use items. In Japan’s case, this includes shutting off a substantial income source for the North: cash remittances from ethnic Koreans in Japan:

The sanctions will effectively freeze North Korea’s assets in Japan by banning withdrawals and overseas remittances from the targets’ accounts in Japanese banks.

This is about as robust an option as I had predicted here, although the North Koreans will likely try to smuggle the cash anyay (tip: the Japanese should invest in some currency-sniffing dogs). And the cost of Kim Jong Il’s fireworks display continues to escalate:

Meanwhile, Australia imposed financial sanctions on 12 companies and one individual suspected of involvement in North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. Australia is one of the few Western countries that maintain official diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said “This supports and complements similar action taken by Japan today and previous actions taken by the U.S., and sends a strong message to North Korea.”

Australia’s rapproachement with North Korea was probably doomed from the moment the Pong Su was intercepted.

The other shoe that hasn’t dropped is the announcement of U.S. sanctions. The State Department isn’t saying what those will be, but it did break the silence of its deliberations to thank Japan and Australia, and to urge other nations to join in. South Korea isn’t likely to be one of those nations if it can help it, but it’s not willing to let its banks replace Banco Delta as the money laundering venue of choice, either. Stay tuned.


  1. This is a significant accomplishment, in light of the fact that a significant portion of the pachinko parlors in Japan are controlled by North Korean sympathizers.