Captain Arrested for Port Call in North Korea
Port authorities in the Japanese city of Hokkaido have detained the Chinese captain of the cargo vessel Lucky Star 8 after finding documents aboard showing that the ship had called in North Korea - contrary to the ship's declarations to customs.
In an on-site inspection, the Japanese Coast Guard found two sets of papers, one showing a call in China in late January, the other showing a call in a North Korean port. The captain said that the double records were created "at the direction of the ship's owner," according to Japan's NHK news.
The vessel has since been released, and as of Monday it was off the coast of Japan, bound for Dalian.
Both Japan and South Korea have recently implemented strong unilateral sanctions on North Korean shipping, over and above those imposed by the United Nations Security Council in early March, which target only vessels owned by North Korea's Ocean Maritime Management (OMM). Both nations now prohibit entry for vessels (of any flag) which have called at North Korean ports within the last 180 days. South Korea estimates that this will affect about 60-70 vessels attempting to call at its ports each year.
China called for and received the removal of four vessels from the list of U.N.-sanctioned ships last month, securing the release of the arrested North Korean freighter Jin Teng from Philippine custody. China continues to trade actively with Pyongyang, both at its shoreside border crossing at Dandong and via bulk carrier shipments across the Yellow Sea. A loophole permitting trade for “livelihood purposes” is allowing Chinese firms to continue to purchase North Korean coal and iron ore exports without interference, despite an explicit ban in the sanctions resolution.
On Monday, Mexican authorities indicated that they will continue to hold the Mu Du Bong, a vessel detained since 2014 on suspected ties to OMM.