Report: S'pore firm running upmarket stores in Pyongyang

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A Singaporean company has been accused of running upmarket departmental stores in Pyongyang, North Korea, in violation of United Nations sanctions banning luxury goods to the country.

According to report research website NK Pro, OCN Singapore Pte Ltd runs two departmental stores that were patronised only by Pyongyang's elite, including foreign diplomats.

The two departmental stores are described as the "Puksae Shop" and the "Pothonggang Ryugyong Store". 

"(These stores) have for years been known to the city's expats as the 'Singapore shops'," according to the report, which cited anonymous sources. 

Products at these shops, which include top-shelf liquor and branded clothing, bore a label with the words "OCN" on the packaging.

Malaysiakini is unable to independently verify the claims made by NK Pro.  

According to NK Pro, OCN has been operating in North Korea since the mid-1990s. NK Pro said OCN declined to comment on the report despite being contacted numerous times.

NK Pro is a subscription-based website featuring analysis and research data on North Korea, which counts military, business and diplomats as clients.

Sanctions on weapons and luxury goods

In 2006, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1718 following North Korea's claimed nuclear test on Oct 9, 2006.

Although the main components of Resolution 1718 were designed to ban exports of arms to North Korea, a provision banning UN members from exporting luxury goods to the country was also included.

Last year, Singapore had fined Chinpo Shipping Company (Private) Ltd S$180,000 (RM563,353) for facilitating a shipment of arms from Cuba to North Korea, in violation of Resolution 1718.

This followed the seizure of a North Korean vessel in Panama in 2013. The Panama Canal Authority said Pyongyang paid a nearly US$700,000 (RM3 million) fine for holding undeclared weapons.

Earlier this year, it was established that a Malaysian company had flouted Resolution 1718 as well, by selling North Korean-made battlefield radios.

However, the company's owner said he was unaware of the sanctions and had shut down operations in 2012 on the advice of the police.

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