AsiaDry Cargo

UN targets North Korean firm

Dalian: A North Korean shipping company is violating sanctions by renaming most of its vessels, according to a study by the United Nations.

Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMM) was blacklisted last July following the seizure of the 1977-built Chong Chon Gang ship in Panama in 2013, which was found to be carrying old Soviet arms and MiG jet fighters.

The UN has since found 13 of the 14 ships have been renamed and reflagged and are trading today. The UN has moved to blacklist officials connected to the company plus a number of shell companies set up to operate the fleet.

Leo Byrne, analytic director at NK News, who alerted the UN to OMM’s fleet movements last October, told Splash: “While still active, it appears that OMM’s vessels are generally operating in Chinese waters, where they are more sure they can continue sailing without interference. It’s unlikely the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] would retire 14 or so vessels, which represents a not insubstantial part of their whole merchant fleet, not when they can reshuffle their identities and carry on almost as before.”

NK News runs a ship tracking service identifying where North Korean ships are trading around the world.

Last March, another report released by the UN suggested North Korea had been using its embassy in Singapore to shift arms around the world.

Chinpo Shipping, a firm the report said was “co-located” with the North Korean embassy in Singapore, acted as the agent for OMM.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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