N. Korean ship arrives at Russian port
By Mikoto Hata
19 May 2017

VLADIVOSTOK (The Korea Herald/ANN News Desk) - North Korea's Mangyongbong has returned to service, raising fears about Pyongyang's economic ties to Moscow. 

North Korea’s cargo-passenger ship Mangyongbong arrived at 8 am on Thursday at the Vladivostok port, finishing its first cruise on a regular route linking North Korea and Russia.

The regular service of the ship, whose entry to Japanese ports is banned, is raising concern that it will strengthen economic ties between Russia and North Korea, poking a hole in the wall of sanctions imposed by Japan, the United States and others against Pyongyang.

According to Russian state news agency TASS, the Mangyongbong, with about 40 Chinese tourists and Russians aboard, arrived at the Vladivostok port 10 hours after it left the Rajin port in the special economic zone of Rason in the northeastern part of North Korea.

The ship carried no cargo, its Russian operator said. It is scheduled to leave Vladivostok for Rajin on Friday night. It will make a round trip between the two ports once a week.

The Mangyongbong used to regularly shuttle between Japan and North Korea.

It is said that the ship was involved in illegal exports of missile parts and was used as a place for North Korean agents to contact each other.

The ship has been banned from entering Japanese ports since 2006 because of North Korea’s ballistic missile launches, among other reasons.

“It is necessary that countries closely cooperate with each other to put pressure [on North Korea],” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Thursday morning, referring to the Mangyongbong’s arrival at the Russian port. “We will closely watch for any impact that Russia’s move may have on efforts by the international community.”

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