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South Koreans Shun "Radioactive" Japanese Shellfish, Prefer Contraband Clams From North

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South Korea's Chosun Ilbo is out with a report today that says "Clams and other seafood from North Korea are openly being sold in the South despite a ban on all trade with the North after the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan last year. Insiders say that is because customers prize North Korean fisheries products."

According to the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, "demand for fish and shellfish from North Korea is rising in the South because customers shun Japanese seafood products due to concerns over radioactive contamination, while there are suspicions over the quality of Chinese products."

"But China's Rolls-Royce Phant--I mean, um...Geely er...GE, looks nice..."

The paper interviewed a vendor who stated:
"We have openly labeled shellfish that come from North Korea because customers think they taste better. They're between W1,000 to W3,000 cheaper than domestic ones but the quality is good" (US$1=W1,081).
There has been an ongoing effort to keep hard currency out of Kim Jong Il's hands, via sanctions introduced several years ago by the UN Security Council. To put further pressure on the regime, the export of luxury goods to the DPRK has also been banned, as Kim Jong Il not only reportedly enjoys the good life while his countrymen starve, he apparently uses big-ticket items to buy continuing loyalty from high-ranking officials.

Some of the items banned?

When the sanctions were drawn up, CNN explained that "It is up to each individual nation to decide exactly what luxury items it wishes to ban from sale to North Korea."

The Japanese banned, among other things, beef, fatty tuna, motorcycles and cameras. Canada blocked exports of lobster, furs, cigarettes, computers and private planes.

And the European Union, through Council Regulation  (EC) No 329/2007, interpreted “luxury goods” to mean:

  • Pure bred horses
  • Caviar and caviar substitutes

  • Truffles and preparations thereof

  • High-quality wines (including sparkling wines), spirits and spirituous beverages
  • High-quality cigars and cigarillos
  • Luxury perfumes, toilet waters and cosmetics, including beauty and make-up products
  • High-quality leather, saddlery and travel goods, hand bags and similar articles
  • High-quality garments, clothing accessories and shoes (regardless of their material)
  • Hand knotted carpets, hand-woven rugs and tapestries
  • Pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, articles of pearls, jewellery, gold- or silversmith articles
  • Coins and banknotes, not being legal tender
  • Cutlery of precious metal or plated or clad with precious metal
  • High-quality tableware of porcelain, china, stone- or earthenware or fine pottery
  • High quality lead crystal glassware
  • High-end electronic items for domestic use
  • High-end electrical/electronic or optical apparatus for recording and reproducing sound and images
  • Luxury vehicles for the transport of persons on earth, air or sea, as well as their accessories and spare parts
  • Luxury clocks and watches and their parts
  • High-quality musical instruments
  • Works of art, collectors pieces and antiques
  • Articles and equipment for skiing, golf, diving and water sports
  • Articles and equipment for billiard, automatic bowling, casino games and games operated by coins or banknotes

Australia's list
adds abalone, fountain pens, and rock lobsters.

Hang on -- no golf equipment? How is Kim Jong Il expected to participate in the 2011 North Korean Amateur Golf Open, beginning this Friday at the Pyongyang Golf Club??

No, seriously. This is an actual golf tournament. Not kidding. (Click HERE for a list of competitors...)
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