Japanese authorities have accused North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un of trying to smuggle luxury cars. Police in the Japanese city of Chiba raided premises on December 7 looking for evidence of violations of the country’s Customs Act and international sanctions that prohibit export of luxury goods to the communist state. Despite the sanctions, Kim Jong Un is known for his love of luxury cars and is frequently seen enjoying them. A $70,000 Lexus was among the recent find.
According to South Korean media, the Lexus was being smuggled to North Korea via Bangladesh and was falsely classified as destined for Singapore. A Hong-Kong-based expert on North Korea’s ruling family told the South China Morning Post that the car was probably on its way to the dictator himself.
Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University, said, “Kim is known to be a big fan of expensive cars – he has been seen with Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, and others.”
Under UN regulations, exporting luxury items to North Korea is banned as punishment for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. A resolution passed in January 2022 condemned “North Korea’s latest nuclear and ballistic missile activity and calls on North Korea to cease its illicit activity.” The resolution provided nation states with the authority to prevent North Korean cargo from entering their territory, and to seize and dispose of “illicit shipments.”
Nevertheless, experts say it is still relatively simple to smuggle a vehicle into the North Korea. Robert Dujarric, of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies in Tokyo, said the world’s intelligence agencies “have better things to do” than focus on cars, and they prioritize blocking military equipment instead.
As well as a taste in expensive cars, the North Korean leader is also known for his love of luxury food, and he reportedly spends millions every year importing extravagant items including high value clothes and watches. The dictator reportedly enjoys rich imported foods from Europe and strong alcohol from around the world.