Imported luxury items surge in North Korea

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Imported luxury items surge in North Korea

North Korea has drastically increased the import of luxury items under the rule of new leader Kim Jong-un, according to an analysis released by Yoon Sang-hyun, a ruling party lawmaker.

The report examines North Korea’s import of luxury items between 2010 and 2012.

“A relevant organization in the country analyzed the circumstance of North Korea’s import of luxury items,” Yoon, a member of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, said at a parliamentary inspection yesterday. “The analysis says even under the rule of Kim Jong-un, the import of North Korea’s luxury items is surging every year, reaching record-breaking figures.”

According to the report, the import of luxury goods - which is banned under the provisions of UN Security Resolution 1718 - has surged under the rule of Kim Jong-un, from $446 million in 2010 to $584 million in 2011 and $645 million in 2012.

Imports in 2012 were more than twice the average under his father Kim Jong-il, which totaled about $300 million annually.

The most popular items in 2012 were liquors such as scotch and wine, which made up about $31 million; electronic devices, about $370 million; perfumes and cosmetics, about $6.3 million; and fur coats and luxury watches.

Yoon said that some luxury items included several expensive pet dogs and pet supplies, such as pet shampoo or toothpaste, baby products made in Europe and the United States, and German-made sauna facilities.

“It is really a serious situation that foreign currencies, which should have been spent on improving the livelihood of people, were increasingly lavished on luxuries for the Kim Jong-un family and the consolidation of his power,” Yoon said in the analysis.



BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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