How Kim Jong-un gets his limousines
Wherever we see the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, he is always driven in one of his exquisite limousines he isn’t supposed to have. There is a UN embargo on luxury products against North Korea for 13 years. How does Kim get his toys?
Lately, when Chinese president Xi Jinping visited the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, he was embarrassed to be invited aboard a Mercedes Maybach limousine that shouldn’t be there. A research center in Washington (Center for Advanced Defense Studies or C4ADS) believes there are some 800 ‘illegal’ luxury cars in North Korea.
C4ADS has tried to trace how two Maybach S600 Pullman Guard (both worth ± 450.000 euros) got in Pyongyang. The identity of the original buyer could not be established. In June last year, both cars were spotted in Rotterdam. The Chinese company Coso took them to Dailan, China.
On the 26th of August, they were transported to Osaka, Japan. There they were loaded on a cargo to Busan, South Korea. They were loaded on a Togolese cargo, owned by Do Young Shipping, based on the Marshall Islands. He delivered the ‘goods’ in Nakhodka, a port not far from Vladivostok, Russia.
At sea, the cargo ship cut all communication channels and became ‘unvisible’ for 18 days. When it was restoring communication, it was transporting 2.500 tons of (Russian?) coal to Busan again. Was this coal a sort of payment? The report thinks so and points the finger at Danil Kazatchuk, a Russian trader based not far from Vladivostok.
It’s difficult to prove things, but it becomes clear that the two cars have then been transferred by air to Pyongyang. On the 7th of October three cargo planes of Air Koryo, the North Korean airline, took a mysterious cargo from Vladivostok to Pyongyang. The same planes are used to transport Kim’s limousines when he travels abroad.
One could see this playing around like a little bit funny. The UN embargo has no effect on these ‘luxury products’ whatsoever because every state is entitled to define itself what is a luxury good.
More worrying is the fact that the same routes are probably used to transport products that serve to enrich uranium and possibly produce atomic bombs.