How Did Kim Jong Un Get Mercedes Limos? Daimler: “No idea.”

North Korea may not have food, but it has million-dollar armored limos

Kim Jong Un in a Daimler Mercedes-Benz limo in Russia.
Kim Jong Un in a Daimler Mercedes-Benz limo in Russia.
Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty

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This week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for the first time. While Kim fired verbal shots at the U.S. for acting in “bad faith,” others were fired at Germany for something unexpected: its cars.

Mercedes-Benz stretch limousines from the German-based brand were used by Kim during this summit, which seems harmless enough, except for the fact that the “sale of luxury goods … is banned under U.N. sanctions intended to put pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons,” writes CBS News. Daimler-branded limos were also reportedly used during Kim’s two summits with President Donald Trump.

So how’d these two armored cars — a Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman Guard and a Mercedes Maybach S62 — find their way to Kim Jon Un’s regime?

“We have absolutely no idea how those vehicles were delivered to North Korea,” wrote Daimler spokeswoman Silke Mockert in a response to an Associated Press report. She further elaborated that the company has had no business connections with the country for “far more than 15 years,” but that third-party sales are “beyond [their] control and responsibility.”

That doesn’t make it any less unfortunate a connection, and it has been one that Daimler (and Mercedes) have a hard time shaking. As Business Insider notes, “Photos of the North Korean Mercedes limos first surfaced in 2014.”

On the other hand, is it a sort of roundabout compliment if a dictator defies international sanctions to procure your company’s vehicles? Maybe.

But speaking of sanctions, this million-dollar-car black market shows how easily some of them can be circumnavigated. So while Daimler may truthfully have “no idea,” it’s in the U.N.’s best interests to get one.

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