No Samsung phones, Nike uniforms for North Koreans? Sanctions cloud Olympic perks

An worker wipes a Samsung Electronics’ smartphone at its sales space in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 2, 2018.

The entire nearly three,000 athletes competing on the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are set to get perks together with the most recent $930 Samsung smartphones, prime quality new tools to take residence and modern Nike uniforms.

All besides maybe the 22 athletes from North Korea.

Powerful worldwide sanctions together with journey restrictions and a ban on the sale of luxurious items and sports activities gear have sophisticated South Korean Olympic organizers’ efforts to supply their northern neighbors with the identical advantages obtainable to different Olympians.

For months, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has sought North Korea’s participation within the hopes it can ease tensions between the nonetheless formally warring nations and stop the type of violent incidents which have plagued earlier main occasions hosted by the South.

Officers have rolled out the pink carpet and are eager to ensure the visits go off with out a hitch.

North Korean feminine ice hockey gamers and their South Korean teammates, who will compete as one nation within the Video games for the primary time, have been dwelling and coaching collectively this week, even sharing a birthday cake.

Different members of the North Korean delegation, such because the cheer squad, will likely be housed in luxurious lodges.

Overshadowing these efforts, nonetheless, are a number of U.S. and U.N. Safety Council sanctions on Pyongyang over its efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped missile able to hitting the US.

At nearly each flip, South Korea has needed to go nice lengths to ensure its hospitalities don’t run afoul of sanctions or different legal guidelines, in response to a number of South Korean officers.

Simply elevating the North Korean flag alongside different nationwide banners within the Olympic Villages required an exemption from South Korean legal guidelines banning reward of the North Korea regime, a Pyeongchang organizing committee official informed Reuters.

The officers all declined to be recognized as a result of delicate nature of the matter.

No Galaxy S8, no Nike?

Samsung Electronics, an official sponsor of the Winter Video games, is providing four,000 Galaxy S8 smartphones specifically designed for the Olympics to “all” of the taking part athletes.

The Worldwide Olympic Committee will distribute them, a Samsung Electronics spokesman informed Reuters.

However South Korea just isn’t certain if North Korean athletes will likely be eligible for the treats due to U.N. Safety Council sanctions, an Olympics organizer informed Reuters.

The official declined to elaborate, however consultants say offering the $930 Samsung cellphone may violate U.N. sanctions that ban the sale of luxurious gadgets and electronics with a possible “twin” industrial and army use.

In the meantime, the joint girls’s hockey workforce will put on uniforms made by a Finnish firm as a substitute of official sponsor Nike, due to considerations about U.S. sanctions, one other South Korean authorities official informed Reuters.

Unilateral U.S. sanctions go far past the U.N. sanctions, successfully banning U.S. corporations and people from buying and selling with North Korea.

A Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S8 smartphone is seen on show at its sales space in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 2, 2018.

“We try to determine methods to reside as much as the sanctions,” the official mentioned.

Nike didn’t instantly reply to request for feedback.

North Korean athletes will even must return Finnish hockey sticks, skates and different tools “rented” for them once they go away South Korea, the official mentioned.

Flight threat

South Korea’s unification ministry mentioned it had sought and obtained non permanent permission from the US to fly an airliner to North Korea this week.

The flight took South Korean athletes for coaching in a ski resort within the North on Wednesday, and introduced North Korean athletes to the South on Thursday.

Any plane or ship visiting North Korea is banned for 180 days from getting into the US. The exemption granted this week solely applies to the most recent flight, that means U.S. approval is required any time North Korean officers go to through the Olympics by airplane or ferry.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Division mentioned Washington was in “shut contact with the Republic of Korea on our unified response to North Korea.”

A U.S. Treasury official mentioned the division evaluates functions “for sure prohibited transactions and actions, which may embrace these associated to the upcoming Olympics”, with out giving extra element.

For this week’s flight, an Airbus plane was used fairly than one made by U.S. Boeing as a result of stricter U.S. sanctions, South Korean broadcaster Channel A reported. Asiana Airways, who operated the aircraft, declined to remark.

To adjust to South Korean army guidelines, the airliner needed to fly far out to sea to keep away from flying over the closely fortified Demilitarised Zone, the unification ministry mentioned.


The North Korean Olympians are staying on the athletes’ village in Gangneung with athletes from different nations. The Olympics organizing committee was unable to say whether or not they’re being given any particular remedy, corresponding to beefed up safety.

North Korea’s 230-member cheering squad is predicted to remain at Inje Speedium, in response to a unification ministry official, a four-star resort surrounded by forest. Rooms there price 242,000 gained ($226) to 715,000 gained per evening.

Its taekwondo efficiency workforce will keep on the five-star Grand Walkerhill in Seoul, which overlooks the Han River and beforehand hosted American stars corresponding to Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton.

The spending just isn’t unprecedented. When North Koreans visited the South for the Asian Video games in 2002, the Seoul authorities spent 1.three billion gained internet hosting them.

However now, even paying for routine issues corresponding to medical remedy or offering souvenirs can run into issues, mentioned Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor at Korea College in Seoul.

“Advantages offered to North Korean delegation, which have been up to now weren’t topic to sanctions, can now develop into an argument, since sanctions have develop into way more complete lately,” he mentioned.

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