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International Relations

South Korea takes in North Korean water for ritual use

Seoul cites religious purposes, says permitting donated supply doesn't violate UN sanctions

SEOUL -- South Korea accepted mineral water from the North's Mount Kumgang tourist region into the country for use in religious services, a Ministry of Unification spokesperson revealed Wednesday.

A religious group in South Korea had requested approval for the water, intended for proceedings that begin Monday. The roughly 46,000 500-milliliter plastic bottles came through the port of Incheon from China, where an ethnic Korean businessman apparently purchased the water from the North and donated it to the religious group.

South Korea forbids all economic dealings with its neighbor, making the entrance of such a large quantity of goods unusual. The ministry allowed the water because it was for religious purposes -- not commercial -- and no United Nations Security Council sanctions were violated, the spokesperson said.

The measure is seen as having the support of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who proposes dialogue and exchanges with the North.

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