World Kim Jong-un adds to sanctions-busting luxury car collection with...

Kim Jong-un adds to sanctions-busting luxury car collection with $200,000 armoured Mercedes sedan

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However, the regime has a long-standing tradition of smuggling in luxury items including high-end watches, designer bags and clothes and expensive alcohol enjoyed by the Kim dynasty and Pyongyang elites.

Last week, the Japanese police foiled an attempt to smuggle a $70,000 Lexus into North Korea via Bangladesh, reported the Asahi Shimbun.

The police raided a car dealer who had allegedly claimed Singapore was the vehicle’s final destination, violating the Japanese Customs Act.

Kim is known to have a penchant for expensive, flashy items such as yachts and jet skis as well as high-end cars, and enjoys flaunting his wealth to his own people despite swathes of the North Korean population going hungry.

In 2018, he made a grand spectacle of riding to a historic meeting with the South Korean president in a black Mercedes limousine flanked by a dozen jogging bodyguards.

Last weekend, state television channel KCTV aired footage of Kim arriving in his new S650 sedan at the National Meeting of Mothers, where he was giving a speech on the importance of having children and raising them to love the regime, said NK News.

He was accompanied by a convoy of Lexus and Toyota SUVs, some of which had been fitted with new police lights and other emblems signalling a security function.

Luxury cars and other goods appear regularly in the country despite maritime surveillance operations by the US and its allies to prevent sanctions breaches. A new route serviced by Russian cargo ships to North Korea’s Rason on the northeast coast is suspected of facilitating the latest shipments.

In 2019, a report by the Washington-based Centre for Advanced Defence Studies said Pyongyang’s ability to smuggle vehicles through China, South Korea and Japan demonstrated how it was also able to supply its nuclear weapons programme.

Last week the centre said it had identified 17 vessels registered to Pacific nations that it believed were linked to “illicit” North Korean oil supply chains.

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