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China: North Korean diplomat responsible for fatal car accident

The Pyongyang envoy paid more than $200,000 to the families of the victims, according to a source.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 23, 2016 at 9:24 AM
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BEIJING, March 23 (UPI) -- China confirmed a North Korean diplomat killed Chinese nationals in a car accident in February.

Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the unidentified North Korean consular official "collided with a taxi, killing the taxi driver and a passenger."

North Korea has since compensated the families of the victims, Hua said, and an anonymous source in the Chinese city of Dandong, where the accident occurred, told Yonhap the diplomat paid $230,714.

The North Korean official was reportedly returning from a dinner celebrating the launch of Pyongyang's earth observation satellite, and is affiliated with the Dandong branch of the North Korean Consulate in Shenyang, China. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, and allegedly veered across the median separating opposing traffic lanes.

Footage from South Korean television networks in February showed what appeared to be the North Korean's mangled black Mercedes Benz, and a badly damaged red taxicab in the aftermath of the accident.

Since that time "local authorities have dealt with the incident in accordance with the law," Hua said Wednesday.

China is North Korea's closest economic partner and traditional ally.

Beijing supported the passage of a United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution in early March, but has stated it does not want sanctions to have an impact on regular trade with its isolated neighbor.

Chinese trade data released Wednesday indicated economic exchange between the two countries grew 4.6 percent year-on-year in February.

Bilateral trade is estimated to be worth $323 million in February, even as tensions grew over a long-range rocket launch and a fourth nuclear test in January.

China comprises 90 percent of North Korea trade.

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