We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

UPI/PA Images
North Korea

North Korean 'agent' charged with trying to sell WMD parts in Australia

The alleged agent’s plans did not involve other governments or officials, police said.

A SYDNEY-BASED “loyal agent of North Korea” has been charged with trying to sell missile parts and technology on the black market to raise money for Pyongyang in breach of international sanctions, Australian police said.

The 59-year-old naturalised Australian citizen of Korean descent, named in local media as Chan Han Choi, was attempting to broker illicit deals that could have generated “tens of millions of dollars” for North Korea, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said.

Choi was involved in discussions to set up a ballistic missile production facility and the supply of missile construction plans in addition to components, software and the transfer of technical expertise from Pyongyang, police alleged.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan told reporters the case was “like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil”, alleging that the man was in contact with high-ranking North Korean officials.

“This man is a loyal agent of North Korea, believing he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose.”


The alleged agent’s plans did not involve other governments or officials, police said. Authorities did not reveal which individuals or entities the man was allegedly trying to trade with.

North Korea is under tough United Nations sanctions aimed at choking off revenue to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

“This is a very important arrest, the charges laid are of the greatest nature,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

“North Korea is a dangerous, reckless, criminal regime threatening the peace of the region. It supports itself by breaching UN sanctions.

“It is vitally important that all nations … enforce those sanctions because the more economic pressure that can be brought on North Korea, the sooner that regime will be brought to its senses.”

Choi, who has lived in Australia for three decades, allegedly used encrypted communication services to facilitate the attempted trades, which included the transfer of coal from North Korea to entities in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Choi was refused bail on after being arrested in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood. He faces a total of six charges, with maximum penalties of up to 10 years in jail.

Police starting looking into his activities earlier this year after a tip-off from a “foreign law enforcement partner”, Gaughan said without giving further details.

Police would not rule out further charges, and were probing other attempted commodity trades involving oil and gemstones, as well as investigating Choi’s activities as far back as 2008.

This is the first time charges have been laid for breaches under Canberra’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Act and for violating UN sanctions against North Korea in Australia.

Global anxiety about North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s authoritarian government has steadily risen this year, with Washington calling on other UN members to cut ties with Pyongyang in order to squeeze the secretive regime.

© AFP 2017

Read: There were fears the PSC would become a “de facto” national ID card from the very outset

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel