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On September 8, South Korea's Ministry of Unification said that they were looking to establish a new policy that they said would elicit change from North Korea. The problem, however, is that their plan would undermine the sanctions that the UN Security Council would put on the North Korean regime days later, as well as sanctions that had been enforced for decades.

South Korea's plan to subsidize North Korean workers

According to an article by Yonhap News titled: "S. Korea to seek new northern policy after reviewing sanctions", the ministry was seeking trilateral economic cooperation after taking the international sanctions into account.

The report makes no secret of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's vision of building a new economic belt with its hostile neighbor to the North. Here is a report from Arirang News about the Jae-in's visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 7 in Vladivostok.

The ministry had recently denied reports which said that Seoul would increase the size of a inter-Korean cooperation fund that would go to a factory zone project on the border of North Korea and Russia being the Russian city of Khasan. The project would be similar to the Kaesong Industrial Region formed in 2002 which is located in North Korea above the demilitarized zone.

The Kaesong Industrial Zone has been closed since February of 2016 but President Jae-in has taken some interest in it saying that he would like to reopen it.

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The reasons for why the industrial zone was closed was due to the fact that South Korea had been paying subsidies to Kim Jong-un regime's state agency who would pay the wages of the 54,700 workers there. The zone included workers from both Korean states.

Past and future violation of UN sanctions

It's been suggested that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had taken at least $110 million from those subsidies for himself over the last year the zone was open. But it's also been said that it's unlikely that any workers there ever saw much of the payment. Kim Jong-un's regime has been known to take such payments for themselves. The central issue around those payments is that Seoul did not monitor how the money was being use, nor did they appear to make an effort to ensure that the money wasn't used for the DPRK's weapons programs.

This would mean that South Korea was in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. And effort to start that again would also be a clear violation. At the time that Seoul temporary closed the zone, the same Ministry of Unification admitted to the knowledge that the funds had been used by the DPRK, towards advancing their nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs.

Again, a clear violation of UN sanctions.

Subsidizing North Korean workers

That region, however, is not related to the Rajin-Khasan that the ministry was refuting reports about. It was recently reported that Russia had stepped in to help North Korea by smuggling fuel from the port city of Vladivostok. The smuggling operation consists of a ferry-line to the North Korean port of Rajin. The city of Khasan is the only locality on the border with the DPRK that is inhabited by Russians.

The way that the urban locality is set up, would serve much like the Kaesong zone. The idea of building a factory park in the Rajin-Khasan region has already been considered since South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun was in in power between 2003 and 2008. Much like today, sanctions and the DPRK's ballistic missile and nuclear tests have caused those ideas to be suspended. Obviously, that still hasn't stopped Russia and the South to publicly announce their willingness to aid the North.