South Korea seeks to toughen regulations on internet trading with North Korea

SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) – South Korea is seeking to require its citizens to obtain prior government approval before exchanging digital files of movies or books with North Koreans via the internet, it said Monday the Unification Ministry.

In January, the ministry proposed revising the Inter-Korean Trade and Cooperation Law in a way that requires the approval of the Unification Minister for cross-border trade of “intangible things” through electronic tools and networks of information and communication.

As part of the proposed revision, anyone wishing to send or receive documents such as emails, film files and digitized books via the internet across the border would have to get the minister’s prior approval.

“Until now, files stored on USB drives have been largely controlled as ‘intangible things’. But as the modes of exchange have diversified, the revision aims to increase clarification, ”said a ministry official on condition of anonymity.

The official, however, denied a media report that the proposed revision of the law was aimed at restricting radio broadcasts across the border to the North Korean people.

“We have no plans at all to restrict the radio broadcasting of civic groups to the north,” the official said.

Currently, all inter-Korean contacts must be approved in advance or reported to the government afterwards, as the two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce and not a peace treaty.

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