You are here


Seoul’s Strategies and Measures for Inter-Korean Cultural and Sports Exchange under the UNSC’s Sanctions against North Korea

Min-gyu Lee

The purpose of this study is to explore measures that can be taken by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) to pursue cultural and sports exchange between South Korea and North Korea with the UN Security Council’s sanctions still in place. Ten UN Security Council Resolutions were reviewed in depth in addition to a case analysis of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and the music performance in Pyongyang. To avoid conflict with the Security Council’s sanctions against North Korea, the SMG may undertake the following strategies and measures. 
The first of three strategies for cultural and sports exchange between the two Koreas is to utilize positive ramifications of sports diplomacy. In order to do this, the SMG will need to come up with sound logic and basis to convince the UN and international community that the exchange will indeed contribute to enhancing peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. 
The second strategy is to pursue exchange, not on its own, but as a package deal combined with other projects that could yield practical benefits. The SMG will need to identify priority projects and plans in other areas of exchange between the two Koreas. 
The third strategy is to form relationships among multi-lateral cooperations to drive each corresponding project. One of the priorities is to maintain a close relationship with the central government in order to gain support when it comes to the UN Security Council sanctions and negotiations with the US government. 
The following detailed actions can be undertaken in response to each of the Council’s sanctions:
First, the key is to prepare a detailed list of items (including properties and materials) for the projects, in response to Council sanctions against supply, sale or transfer of weapons and supplies. It is critical to classify items that can be used for both military and civilian purposes and those prohibited for exportation and importation into North Korea in the process. 
Second, the option of using Korean low-cost carrier aircraft may be considered to comply with the Council’s resolution on inspection of cargo and sanctions as they relate to ships and airplanes. 
Third, the “user pays” principle should be established to comply with the Council’s financial sanctions against North Korea. Based on the principle of reciprocity, cost of events held in Seoul are paid by the SMG while the cost of those held in North Korea are borne by North Korea. In addition, inter-Korean cooperation funds may be used pursuant to South Korean law and practice. 
Fourth, delegations may comprise of those for whom the restrictions against entry and transit do not apply, after discussing the matter with North Korea in advance, or a request may be made to the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea to allow for short-term exemptions. 
Fifth, exceptions to the sanctions against North Korea may be utilized. The important thing to note is that these will require an explicit approval of the Committee.