S. Korea scraps envisioned barter transaction deal with N. Korean firm

SEOUL, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Monday it has scrapped a plan to have barter transactions with a North Korean trading company after the firm was found to be a subject of international sanctions.
Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho made the report during a closed-door meeting of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, according to its leading members.
The ministry had been weighing whether to approve the 150 million-won (US$126,039) plan, forged in June between a South Korean farmers’ group and the North’s Kaesong Koryo Insam Trading Co., to bring in North Korean ginseng, blueberry liquors and other food products in return for South Korean sugar.
“The project in question can be seen as having been completely dropped,” Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition United Future Party told reporters. “It seems that the Unification Ministry has not carried out a thorough (background) check on the firm through the National Intelligence Service.”
Unification Minister Lee In-young has been seeking to bring fractured inter-Korean ties back on track through cooperative projects, including the envisioned barter transaction deal, since he took office last month.
According to officials, Kaesong Koryo Insam Trading is on the international community’s sanctions list and is suspected to be a front for Bureau 39 of the North Korean Workers’ Party, handling foreign currency earnings.
Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the Democratic Party, also a key member of the Intelligence Committee, told Yonhap News Agency over the phone that “this does not mean all of the ministry’s envisioned barter transaction projects (with North Korea) have been thwarted.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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