North Korea

North Korea launches 1st cargo ship in 5 years

North Korea has launched Jang Su San, a 12,000 dwt cargo vessel which is the first known merchant vessel launched by the country in five years.

Rodong Sinmun/KCNA

The launching and naming ceremony took place at Ryongnam Dockyard in the western port city of Nampho on 23 December 2021, Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, informed.

The newbuild departed the shipyard the same day.

It is the first time for the North Korean media to officially report on the launch of a cargo vessel since 2017. Back in April 2017, the country held a naming ceremony for the 5,000 dwt cargo ship Jaryok at the abovementioned shipyard.

Images of the Jang Su San have been broadcasted on state-controlled Korean Central Television (KCTV). Although all ships are required to have the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Code, a unique seven-digit number that remains unchanged through a vessel’s lifetime and serves for identification, it appears that the newly built North Korean vessel doesn’t have one, according to NK News.

Jang So San is believed to be the largest vessel currently owned by North Korea, following the seizure of its 17,000 dwt unit Wise Honest. To remind, Wise Honest was seized by the US Department of Justice for allegedly violating the United States and United Nations sanctions by illicitly shipping coal from North Korea.

North Korea demanded the release of the bulker saying the seizure was “an unlawful and outrageous act”.

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Later that year, the bulker was sold for scrap by the US government.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2017. The UN Security Council has passed several resolutions sanctioning North Korea for developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. 

In September 2017, the former U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order on imposing additional sanctions against the country. The widened sanctions targeted the country’s shipping industry, trade, ports, and manufacturing, while a blockade was imposed on owning, controlling, or operating any port in North Korea, including any seaport, airport, or land port of entry.