Lil’ Kim Buys Booze, Watches and Furs While His People Starve

Luxury imports to North Korea are booming as leader snaps up gifts for cronies

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KCNA / Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (front L) inspects the construction site of the Munsu Swimming Complex, which is nearing completion, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 18, 2013.

The North Korean regime under Kim Jong Un may not be able to feed its citizens, but it successfully feeds a booming market for luxury goods imports, a new South Korean government report shows. Citing the report on Monday, lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun said that the imports of products like furs, pets and mid-sized sedans reached $645.8 million last year, compared to an average of around $300 million under the previous leader, Kim Jong Il.

“The products were given as gifts to key figures in North Korean society to ensure their loyalty to the regime,” Yoon said, listing imports of alcoholic beverages at $30 million and watches at $8.2 million.

Kim Jong Un succeeded his father Kim Jong Il two years ago. Earlier this month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization stated that North Korea is one of 34 countries that require external assistance to properly feed their people.

[Korea Herald]

15 comments
guz
guz

Oh well, if the people don't rise up...

jimmyharpoon
jimmyharpoon

Call him marshal, king or emperor, he's just a gangster who inherited a country.  Surely no one sees him as a benign leader.


leon1376
leon1376

Only one problem: the people aren't "starving". The rice harvest was just completed and the total was 5.3 million tons. They need a total of 5.5 million to be comfortable. Also, a couple months ago Marshal Kim Jong Un ordered the military to release a large amount of its own stockpile to the civilian population. The luxury goods are not being purchased by the state to buy the loyalty of the elites. Marshal Kim has taken control of the economy back from the military and a whole lot of party elites are cutting big deals with China and Japan. The Yuan and Euro, and in many places, the US Dollar, are accepted in the DPRK. Their won is basically worthless. Nobody uses it if they can get their hands on foreign currency. Right now, there are a lot of people in the DPRK getting filthy rich. There are also a lot of little entrepreneurs making money as well. Things are changing very rapidly in the DPRK. Do try to keep up.      

JohnWoodd
JohnWoodd

@guz Sure they can! Some of them do. Unfortunately it doesn't end well for them.

JohnWoodd
JohnWoodd

@jimmyharpoon I'm sure in North Korea you'd get a jail time just for saying it. People are simply afraid.

rma101560
rma101560

Apparently the propaganda machine is alive and well.

JohnWoodd
JohnWoodd

@leon1376 your post sound so DPRK-paid. "Marshall Kim?" - PLEASE, you just gave yourself away. State-run media and state-run comment.

leon1376
leon1376

@gmfort13 @leon1376 I don't get actual cash money since the Won is basically worthless but every Friday night two Pyongyang Traffic Girls come over with a case of Taedonggang beer and a bucket of extra crispy. Life gets no better than that. Gotta go now; I'm busy drawing a map with a big red X on the roof of your house, you insolent Yankee Imperialist Aggressor.   

JasonDowd
JasonDowd

@buffalo.barnes102 @leon1376 Really? Are they looking for new investors?

leon1376
leon1376

@JohnWoodd @leon1376 Wrong, my friend. I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and my personal belief system is diametrically-opposed to that of the DPRK. Maybe 8 months ago I ran across the Moranbong Band (love 'em!) on YouTube and over time developed an intense interest in the DPRK and a deep empathy for the people. They have suffered more than you know and I'm not just talking prison camps either. The only direction for these folks is "up". I want only good things to happen to them so I'm always on the lookout for positive signs. I'm smart enough to ignore the political back-and-forth nonsense from both the left and the right. I've watched Marshal Kim Jong Un closely and he's a game-changer. He is certainly not his father's son; that's for sure. I readily admit the guy is slowly growing on me. I might be overshooting the runway a bit, but I seem to detect his attitude toward his subordinates as being, "if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." He's sacked over 40 generals and politicians, including General Kim Kyok Sik, his father's feared hatchet man. It's my understanding that the general didn't go quietly so he was "dismissed with extreme prejudice". The one thing you must understand is that the present political system in the DPRK is not Marxist-Leninism but Juche, which is far more ideologically malleable than communism. In fact, the term "communism" was eviscerated from the constitution some 20 years ago, after the USSR went belly-up. In any case, if you like, go to YouTube and listen to the Moranbong Band's version of the "Aegukka". Politics come and politics go but that national anthem is pure Korean soul. 

rma101560
rma101560

"I'm smart enough to ignore the political back-and-forth nonsense from both the left and the right."

But you are not smart enough to see through the BS someone is feeding you.  One of the world's most repressive dictatorships is not going to change from within.  Since you have no first-hand knowledge of the actual situation, your suppostions are just that.  You speak from a false sense of knowledge.