How Kim Jong Un Gets His Luxury Cars Into North Korea

Each Maybach costs an estimated $500,000

Kim Jong Un cars
No one knows exactly how Kim Jong-un gets his cars. (Linh Pham/ Getty)
By Ariel Scotti / July 19, 2019 11:38 am

A new report from the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies details the harrowing and covert journey not of spies or Navy SEALS but of twin Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guards.

The cars — which cost an estimated $500,000 each — took a multi-month journey that started from the Dutch Port of Rotterdam and made stops in China, Russia, Japan and South Korea before finally landing on the doorstep of one very wealthy buyer in Pyongyang, CNN reported. Neither the report nor CNN could say who the heavily armored rides were for, but in the capitol city, there aren’t many guesses to be made.

This is despite the many sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United Nations after the country refused to end its nuclear program — one of which says luxury retailers, companies and even individuals cannot sell premium goods to anyone in North Korea. Including Kim.

In fact, the C4ADS report found that as many as 90 countries sent North Korea at least $191 million worth of luxury goods between 2015 and 2017. While there is some variation between what some might consider “luxury,”  the Mercedes-Maybach S600 clearly qualifies. As CNN noted, the car has leather massaging seats and is so heavily armored that it can “protect occupants from steel-core ammo fired from assault rifles and from explosive devices.”

Kim is also the proud owner of a $1 million Mercedes-Maybach Pullman Guard armored limousine and has been spotted several times in a Rolls-Royce. As far as his Mercedes collection goes, the automaker’s parent company, Daimler, told CNN that it has “no indication” of how the cars “were delivered [or] where they come from.”

“Our company has had no business connections with North Korea for far more than 15 years now and strictly complies with EU and US embargoes,” Daimler said in a statement to CNN. “To prevent deliveries to North Korea and to any of its embassies worldwide, Daimler has implemented a comprehensive export control process, which we consider appropriate and effective and which meets all requirements of the export control authorities.

“Sales of vehicles by third parties, especially of used vehicles, are beyond our control and responsibility,” the company continued. “We always investigate the vehicles displayed on the photos in the media thoroughly. However, without the vehicle identification numbers it is impossible to find a concrete trace.”

The C4ADS couldn’t quite put its finger on it either, and concluded by saying 803 luxury vehicles have made their way into Pyongyang from 2015 to 2017 and that the majority of them originated from Russian companies.

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