Korean leader lives the high life in smuggled cars

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has openly flouted UN sanctions by riding around in high-priced luxury limousines bought in the West

01 August 2019 - 08:30 By Motor News Reporter
North Korea's Kim arrives in Vladivostok in a Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard armoured limo. Picture: REUTERS
North Korea's Kim arrives in Vladivostok in a Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard armoured limo. Picture: REUTERS
Image: REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has openly flouted UN sanctions by riding around in high-priced luxury limousines bought in the West.

According to Automotive News Europe, Kim and his entourage rode to meetings with US President Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin earlier in 2019 in a Mercedes-Benz SUV and two Maybachs. The dictator also has been spotted cruising around in a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The top-of-the-line cars popular with world leaders — the Maybach S62 and Maybach S600 Pullman Guard — which cost $500,000 to $1.6m each, were used by Kim in open defiance of UN sanctions intended to ban luxury goods from North Korea.

High-end Western goods are making their way to North Korea’s elite through a complex system of port transfers, secret high-seas shipping and shadowy front companies, according to research by the Centre for Advanced Defence Studies, a nonprofit Washington group that looks at smuggling networks, and an investigation by The New York Times.

Kim’s high-priced car convoy reveals the potential limits of sanctions as a tool to pressurise North Korea into negotiations to end its nuclear weapons programme.

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