South Korea announced stringent unilateral sanctions against North Korea following a United Nations Security Council resolution over Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test and satellite launch.

LEE SUK-JOON, SOUTH KOREAN MINISTER OF THE OFFICE FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY COORDINATION:

“The South Korean government will impose financial sanctions against 40 individuals and 30 entities, ban them from making foreign exchange and financial transactions with our people and freeze their assets here as well.”

“The government will continue to make efforts to sanction and put pressure on North Korea to change it by cooperating with the international community.”

 The sanctions seek to choke-off North Korean trade, which Seoul says funds its WMD programs. But China believes engagement holds the key to resolving the issue.

 WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER:

“The final settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue needs comprehensive action and the right medicine for the illness. Blind faith in sanctions and pressure, actually, are not a responsible approach for the future of the Peninsula.”

 China prefers stability while many U.S. and South Korean conservatives support regime change as a remedy for the North Korean problem. Such competing strategies hinder doable solutions.

YANG MOO-JIN, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH KOREA STUDIES:

“All the participants of the Six Party Talks, including the U.S. and China, agree on the fact that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are unacceptable. However, they all have different ideas about how to solve the problem, because they have different national interests.”

The U.S. has deployed various aircraft to South Korea since the North Korean nuclear test and satellite launch, with Seoul and Washington in talks for deployment of an advanced U.S. missile system, raising tension.

The South Korean President’s move to forge unprecedented sanctions reduces the chances for dialogue at least for the near term. And with North Korea as well as China and Russia bristling over further U.S. militarization of the peninsula, the regional power struggle expands.

Frank Smith