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Pyongyang-Beijing train service used as N. Korea's new conduit for illicit trade

All Headlines 15:39 October 06, 2016

SHENYANG, China, Oct. 6 (Yonhap) -- A cross-country train service linking Pyongyang and Beijing has turned out to be a new conduit used by North Korea to smuggle foreign currency and high-priced goods as the international community moves to impose tougher sanctions on the North following its missile and nuclear tests, sources familiar with North Korea-China border affairs said Thursday.

Chinese customs officers seized about 3,000 grams of 40 black bear gallbladders from North Korea, possessed by a man believed to be a North Korean, at the border in the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong bordering the North on Aug. 18, the sources said.

The man arrived in Dandong on the K-85 Beijing-bound international train from the North Korean capital.

The gallbladders worth around US$7,500 total were neatly packed and not declared. Chinese officials arrested him on suspicion of smuggling the goods used in Asian medicine practices into China.

The seizure was followed by an another smuggling case on Sept. 1 in the same Chines border city in which he was keeping US$90,000 in a pair of hose-covered belly bands under his coat before being apprehended.

At Dandong Station, the man was taking procedures to board an international train bound for Pyongyang obviously as he attempted to bring the money into the North by illicit means.

The Chinese authorities are investigating into whether the money came from North Korean officials involved in the border trade and would had been offered to the North Korean government as a bribe.

Chinese banks has suspended remittance to the North since early March when China complied with a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution against the North.

A source said "the North Korean side has been desperately trying to bypass official and legal ways in trading goods and sending money amid international sanctions on it."

A Pyongyang-Beijing international train, which runs once a day, departs from Dandong Station at 10:00 a.m. and makes a stop at Sinuiju Station for immigration procedures before finishing a run of five and half hours at Pyongyang Station. It leaves Pyongyang the next morning before arriving in Dandong at 4:30 p.m.

This undated file photo a Pyongyang-Beijing international train runs on a bridge between the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong and the North Korean border city of Sinuiju. (Yonhap)

namsh@yna.co.kr
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