April 13 (UPI) -- North Korea's methods of evading sanctions have not been enough to offset their impact, according to a new study.
Kim Suk-jin, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in the South, said in a new report that Pyongyang has devised new ways to circumvent United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed on the regime for nuclear weapons development.
While North Korea has scraped by with ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum oil, illicit North Korean activities have not impeded the long-term effect of sanctions, Kim said, according to Yonhap.
The U.N. Panel of Experts on North Korea, under the Security Council, previously raised concerns about illegal activities. North Korea's illegal coal shipments, sales of fishing rights to Chinese boats and cyber attacks on financial institutions are at the forefront of international concerns.
According to the South Korean research, the illegal shipments of coal are substantially lower than coal volumes before sanctions. North Korea exported more than 20 million tons of coal to China pre-sanctions while making more than $1 billion per year.
After coal sanctions were adopted in 2017, North Korea traded only a few million tons of coal and earned about hundreds of millions of dollars per year, the report said.
The South Korean study also said that estimates of North Korean cyber theft vary widely. According to the report, North Korea likely stole between $200 million and $300 million from bitcoin exchanges.
International bans on North Korean laborers at overseas worksites also impacted Pyongyang's foreign currency earnings. Most workers were repatriated after 2020, the report said.
China has supported sanctions relief for North Korea, but the two countries have not always agreed on bilateral matters.
Beijing's decision to appoint Liu Xiaoming, a former ambassador to Britain as its new envoy for Korean Peninsula Affairs, may have been made without consulting Pyongyang.
In 2015, Sino-NK, a research website, said in an analysis North Korea was not happy with Liu, who was ambassador to Pyongyang from 2006 to 2010, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.
Liu reportedly was overheard telling Chinese investors to not invest in North Korea, the analysis said.