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N. Korea runs about 200 trading entities to earn foreign currency
By Kim Kwang-tae
SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is running about 200 trading companies and entities to earn foreign currency, an official said Wednesday, citing a North Korean quarterly magazine.

   The list was compiled after an analysis of the past five-year issues of Foreign Trade, which publicizes North Korean companies and entities in connection with the country's foreign trade and its bid to attract foreign investment, the official said.

   Still, the actual number may be smaller as North Korea could have used different names for the same companies. The North frequently changes names of its trading companies and entities to try to avoid sanctions imposed over its two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, according to the South Korean government.

   The list includes Korea Taesong Trading, which was blacklisted last year by the United States for its involvement in the trade of weapons of mass destruction and other activities banned by U.N. resolutions.

   South Korean officials said the North Korean trading companies and entities are believed to be engaged in a competition to show their allegiance to leader Kim Jong-il and his heir apparent son Kim Jong-un.

   In return, the North Korean leader showers his top aides and other elites with luxury goods to win their loyalty.

   entropy@yna.co.kr
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