Suspicious vessels continue to dock in South Korean ports, despite recent alerts and an investigation into reports that North Korean coal has been imported to the South illegally.
VOA reported on Monday that, according to the website MarineTraffic, a Belize-flagged ship, the Jin Long, docked in the southeastern port of Pohang on Saturday and is believed to still be there.
Satellite images show the ship had docked last week at the Russian port of Nakhodka , near Vladivostok, and next to it was a black material, believed to be North Korean coal.
And though satellite images do not clearly show whether the coal has been unloaded in South Korea, VOA says there is evidence that the ship did unload coal somewhere.
But South Korea's foreign ministry says this does not mean anything illicit was done.
"The Jin Long was carrying Russian coal when it arrived last weekend, and an inspection of the vessel shows no UN Security Council resolutions were violated."
The spokesperson said this is according to an initial review of documents related to the ship and its cargo.
This was also the case for another Belize-flagged ship, the "Shinning Rich," just a few days ago.
That vessel came into South Korea's western port city of Pyeongtaek last week, but with the ministry saying it carried no illegal goods, it left for China on Saturday.
However, there's still some skepticism about the ministry's statement. A Radio Free Asia report Monday cited a North Korean person working in trade as saying there's a Russian company that fudges documents to disguise the North Korean coal as its own.
But when the ministry was asked if it's certain that this is not the case for the coal brought in by the Jin Long, the spokesperson said he would not make any prejudgements.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government is reportedly almost done with its investigation into 9 cases related to North Korean coal allegedly brought in illegally. Some of that coal is, in fact, known to have been unloaded.
If true, these acts would likely be severe violations of UN Resolution 23-97.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.