C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 001929
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2029
TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PREL [External Political Relations], ECON [Economic Conditions], ETRD [Foreign Trade], PINR [Intelligence], KN [Korea (North)], KS [Korea (South)]
SUBJECT: A VIEW FROM BUSAN HARBOR ON "UNOFFICIAL"
Classified By: POL M/C James L. Wayman. Reasons: 1.4 (b/d).
¶1. (C) A Busan-based freight company executive recently told
us that the Dan Gyol Bong, a DPRK cargo ship, docks in Busan
2-4 times a month to offload seafood, agricultural products
and clothing and take on fabrics, processed foods and used
cars -- which usually get sold in China and Russia. Our
interlocutor told us that the ROKG is fully aware of what the
Dan Gyol Bong is doing and monitors the ship's activities
closely. End summary.
Seafood Off, Cars On
¶2. (SBU) Kukbo Freight Company CEO Park Dong-sol recently
provided APP Busan with some insight into the small-scale
international trading that helps provide cash to provincial
North Korean governments, especially those in the northeast.
Park related that the Dan Gyol Bong, a DPRK cargo ship, docks
at Busan's Gamcheon harbor 2-4 times a month to offload
seafood, agricultural products and clothing. The ship's home
is Najin, a city in the northeast corner of North Korea,
close to the borders with China and Russia. After unloading
its cargo, the Dan Gyol Bong usually loads up with recyclable
vinyl plastic, fabrics, processed foods and used cars; the
majority of the cargo it carries back to the North is sold in
China and Russia. According to Park, this kind of business,
though small-scale, has fat profit margins.
¶3. (C) Park told us that the ROKG is fully aware of what the
Dan Gyol Bong is doing. The ROK Coast Guard meets the ship
once it crosses over into ROK waters off the east coast and
escorts it to Busan. Once docked, Customs, Immigration, and
Quarantine officers, local police, the Coast Guard and the
NIS all observe the offloading and loading operations. Park
added that the North Korean crewmen are not allowed to
interact with the South Korean dock workers; the DPRK sailors
"simply walk away" if anyone tries to engage them in
conversation. In addition, the Dan Gyol Bong docks, unloads
and reloads all in one day. If it arrives before the dock is
open, it will stay out at sea until it can enter the port
during business hours rather than overnighting in a South