Powerful government organizations run the trading companies that smuggle the coal.
The ship-to-ship transfers help smugglers evade U.S. satellite image surveillance of North Korean ships.
North Korean coal is inexpensive and high quality, so many Chinese trading firms are buying up as much as possible.
The coal can fetch U.S. $50-60 per ton, and each of the Kumgang Company's ships can carry between 1,000 and 2,000 tons, much cheaper than the $200 per ton it costs for China to get coal on the international market.
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