Judge holds Chinese banks in contempt, fines them $50K a day for failing to comply with North Korea subpoenas

If you haven’t already read my post about Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s order directing three Chinese banks to comply with federal grand jury and statutory subpoenas of their North Korea-related records, you should probably start there. Although the docket in this case is still sealed, I speculated in that post that the banks would likely appeal to the D.C. Circuit and seek a stay of the court’s order. And so they have, according to an order Judge Howell unsealed today....

I’ll give you a topic. The final voyage of the “Wise Honest” was neither. Discs.

Jt as predicted, North Korea’s apologists have switched from the sanctions-never-work narrative to the human shield narrative. And with impeccable timing—which we can be sure the apologists will question—the feds have seized and sued to forfeit a 17,000-ton North Korean bulk carrier that was hauling neither rice, nor corn, nor milk, but coal to enrich Kim Jong-un, and machinery to keep his mines and his military-indtrial complex from shutting down.1 And it was doing it with money laundered through correspondent...

OFK Exclive: Court orders three Chinese banks to comply with subpoenas for North Korea-related records

We’ve all heard of ancient Chinese curses. Now, here is a modern one: “May the subpoenas fall like rain on your New York correspondents.” In December 2017, that curse afflicted three Chinese banks that now find themselves enmeshed in an expensive and legally perilo FBI investigation into the laundering of large amounts of Kim Jong-un’s lucre. With today’s unsealing of Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s opinion, ordering the banks to comply with the subpoenas, the story can be told. You can...

The “experts” were wrong. The sanctions are working.

The fact that even the New York Times says so didn’t make it so; it jt made it harder for people who trt the New York Times to deny it. But for those of who’ve always put more stock in the Daily NK and Rimjin-gang, the evidence has been piling up for more than a year. Our chronology begins in March 2016, two months after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and one month after Congress passed the North Korea Sanctions...

S. Korea’s ruling party thinks Korean journalists mt “contribute to peaceful reunification, national reconciliation & the restoration of national homogeneity”

I often reflect on how life has been kind to me lately. Once, I was poor and cold; now, I live in comfort and warmth. Once, I struggled to eat enough; now, I struggle to eat less. Once, life was enclosed in the ennui of poverty, isolation, and the prospect of a life lived in dullness and pointlessness; now, life is endlessly interesting. Once, I was alienated and alone; now, I come home to my best friends, including the two...

“Liberal” South Korean authorities launch criminal investigation of political parody posters

At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. “[T]he freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty — and th a good unto itself — but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.” – Htler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 50-51 (1988)....

State Department cites “liberal” South Korean government’s censorship

In December, I was a panelist at this event at the American Enterprise Institute. You can read the transcript here, or watch it on video here. In my remarks, I tried to put the censorship of South Korea’s left and right into that country’s recent historical context, noting the signs that left-wing leaders who emerged from a nominally pro-democracy movement were now engaging in a strategic and systematic campaign to silence defectors, vloggers, and political critics through internet censorship and...

How Congress can legislate maximum pressure over Donald Trump’s veto

In 1986, Congress passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act by a vote that was overwhelming, if not quite so overwhelming as the margins by which later congresses would pass North Korea sanctions. I still have a vague memory of when President Reagan vetoed anti-Apartheid sanctions and took his plea for “constructive engagement” to the American people, making many of the same arguments that the left would make generations later to support “engagement” with Kim Jong-un. Congress, unpersuaded then as now, overrode...

Chollima Civil Defense jt became a serio threat to Kim Jong-un’s misrule (Update: No, it didn’t.)

Update: As of today, it looks like most of what we’ve read about this story was untrue — starting with the lack of evidence that any of the people involved were even North Koreans. They appear to have been U.S., South Korean, and Mexican nationals instead. They aren’t going to publish what they found on the computers, either. They jt handed them over to the FBI, which potentially puts the FBI in the difficult position of holding property stolen from...

UN Panel investigating South Korean sanctions violations

The U.N. Panel of Experts has released its latest report, and for the first time since it began publishing them in 2009, it is now investigating South Korea for violating the sanctions. One area the Panel is looking into is its imports of North Korean coal for ten months, in violation of UNSCR 2371, while its Coast Guard dragged out an “investigation” of those imports, allowed the smuggling ships to come and go freely without seizing them, and later charged...

Congress is losing confidence in Trump & Treasury on North Korea sanctions

Yesterday, Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced a new version of the Otto Warmbier Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea, or BRINK Act, which I wrote about here in 2017. You can read the two Senators’ summaries of the bill here and here. Otto’s parents also provided a supportive statement. Congress’s patience, which has long been near a breaking point, has reached it. Perhaps it’s not completely fair that Trump is now reaping the frtrations that were...

How to negotiate a lasting peace in Korea, feed the hungry, and heal the sick

Let’s say you still believe in a negotiated disarmament of North Korea, something to which I assign a ten percent probability at most. Or, let’s say you don’t. Spend your disbelief and assume that aggressive sanctions enforcement—the enforcement Kim Jong-un tricked Trump into calling off nearly a year ago—becomes a sufficient threat to the solvency and cohesion of Kim Jong-un’s regime that he comes back to the table next year, offers to submit a complete declaration of his WMD programs...

Hanoi Redux: the Senate, the Supremes & Pompeo (also, Trump!) on the Iran deal

SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT OBAMA’S DEAL WITH IRAN; what Trump signed with Kim Jong-un in Singapore makes it look like a model of clarity and specificity. For all its flaws, the Iran deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), undeniably gained something. Its inspection terms and sunset clae were serio flaws and might have proven to be fatal ones. Even so, it got Iran to surrender a big stockpile of enriched uranium and make some eful concessions that...

Save Congress a Seat at Hanoi: On North Korea, Sanctions, Treaties & Politics

WHO STILL BELIEVES THAT DONALD TRUMP IS THE GREAT NEGOTIATOR HE CLAIMS TO BE? Certainly not Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or Mitch McConnell. Certainly not Kim Jong-un. Certainly not the people doing the most futile job inside the Beltway right now—writing Donald Trump’s intelligence assessments about North Korea, or of jt what he persuaded Kim Jong-un to do at Singapore. Drink a toast to them. Better yet, buy them one. Many people in government now, up to and including John...

As Trump goes soft on North Korea, the Democrats are outflanking him

BEFORE DONALD TRUMP FELL IN LOVE WITH KIM JONG-UN, Washington had found an almost unprecedented amount of bipartisan unity around the need to enforce sanctions until Kim Jong-un had irreversibly begun to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction and end his crimes against humanity. Most sensible people who send representatives to Congress believe in concepts like evil and pathological mendacity. Yet these concepts are anathema to the twenty percent of the population on the left end of the political Bell...

How to make Kaesong a safety valve for sanctions and a(nother) test of engagement

Fifteen years after the opening of Kaesong and more than twelve years after the approval of UNSCR 1718, Seoul has finally gotten around to reading the resolution that Kaesong violated for a decade. As I’ve harped on during that entire period, paragraph 8(d) required Seoul to “ensure” that its bulk dollar transfers to Pyongyang, which it deceptively called “wages,” were not diverted for nukes, missiles, or luxury goods. No matter how obnoxioly I would present that question to the South...

Rape, revenge, sanctions & North Korea’s hated Ministry of Love

FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, Machiavelli mulled the question of whether a tyrant should seek to be feared or loved. The Ministry of State Security or MSS is North Korea’s analog to Orwell’s Ministry of Love,1 but in reality, it is Kim Jong-un’s most feared and hated enforcer. It targets “spies, subversive elements, and political criminals” — the people the state fears most. It runs North Korea’s most horrific prison camps, of which one North Korean woman interviewed secretly by the BBC said, “It is...

Of course, Kim Jong-un’s tourist resorts will fail. Of course, we can help with that.

The following question is multiple choice. Please do not e a number two pencil to blacken the oval on your screen. In April, angry, hungry citizens in North Korea’s remote Ryanggang Province took the brave and desperate step of protesting to local authorities over forced “donations” of food, money, and supplies they were required to make to the construction of — (a) an orphanage (b) a grain elevator (c) a soy-based infant formula factory (d) a beach resort If you...