Why Denmark is exporting forbidden goods to North Korea?

Summary of the story:

According to NK News, “the UN Comtrade database also shows numerous exports of precious metals and stones from Denmark to North Korea last year. A representative from Statistics Denmark confirmed to NK News that the destination of the exports was accurate. In total, there were 19 shipments from Denmark of precious stones or metals between January and October 2014. The exports usually came under the category of “Gold, silversmith wares, base clad with precious metal,” though also included pearls, silver jewelry and other jewelry “clad with previous metals.” Totaling just over $3,000, and ranging from just $24 to over $500 the exports were much less valuable than those from India. No minimum value threshold exists in the EU or UN’s definition of “luxury” however, so it’s possible that exporters could argue the cheaper items would be exempted due to their low value.

“If it’s gold, it’s still gold. In strict legal terms, there is no de minimis exemption for luxury goods, but I think any lawyer worth his salt would go for the argument that luxury has to mean luxury,” an expert familiar with UN sanctions told NK News.

“I think there has to something of a common sense test here … on the other hand I would doubt that the DPRK would be importing the cheapest stuff which presumably they could make themselves” the expert continued.

The EU enforces relatively strict laws governing the export of luxury goods to the DPRK. “It shall be prohibited: to sell, supply, transfer or export, directly or indirectly, gold, precious metals and diamonds,” legislation passed in March 2013 reads.

The Ministry of Foreign affairs for Denmark did not reply requests for comment on the export.

In total Denmark recorded over a half a million dollars of trade with the DPRK in the first 11 months of 2014. As is often the case with North Korean trade, this figure was heavily in Denmark’s favor, with exports making up over 80 percent of total trade interactions.

The largest single export occurred in September last year, a $114,000 shipment falling under the category of “beverages, spirits and vinegar.”


Denmark shouldn’t export these goods to North Korea as it’s strictly forbidden by the law. I personnaly believe that Denmark authorities are not respecting these rules because the Danish governement and authorities had a specific interest through the realization of these transactions. Not only financial, but also for diplomatic reasons. Denmark is probably exporting these goods (ie. making money) in exchange of a specific service (maybe the intrusion of DPRK agents who were looking for a couple of North Korean defectors? or potential investments in North Korea – Denmark invested there already 500 mln of USD).

From an other point of view, these potential investments (or a market for luxury goods) are creating a kind of Juche market dynamics. These investments are creating jobs in North Korea and these luxury goods are increasing the dependance of the DPRK elites over foreign countries.

The question which I may raise is the following:

– When countries, who are not respecting the laws governing the export of luxury goods to the DPRK, will be financially condemned?

– Should we withdraw the laws governing the exports of luxury goods to the DPRK? Personally I think that we should withdraw it as it brings no changes.

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