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Report unveils shipping route for N. Korean leader's luxury vehicles

All Headlines 16:11 July 17, 2019

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- Two armored Mercedes vehicles were transported to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from the Netherlands via China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, despite international sanctions banning exports of luxury goods to the impoverished country, a recent report said.

In the report released Tuesday, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a research group in Washington, also said up to 90 countries were involved in the North's luxury goods procurement network between 2015 and 2017.

A U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in 2006 prohibits exports of luxury goods to North Korea in punishment of its nuclear program, but absence of consensus on the definition of "luxury goods" among member states resulted in lack of compliance, it said.

Among the luxury items shipped to the North are two bullet-proof Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guards transported last year.

The vehicle, popular among heads of state and business leaders, is valued at more than US$500,000, according to the report. It was first spotted in Pyongyang in January.

According to the group's investigation, the two Mercedes limousines were shipped from the Rotterdam Port in June last year and arrived in Russia's Nakhodka in early October before being transported to Pyongyang just days later.

The group said the report was based on publicly available information, such as corporate registry filings, trade records, vessel tracking data and customs records.

"The commercial entities involved in shipments of high-end luxury products operate in multiple jurisdictions, have significant freight handling capabilities, and engage with North Korea in other prohibited commercial activities like ship-to-ship transfers, coal exports, overseas labor, and arms sales," the report said.

It also said overseas branches of North Korean companies support "critical economic functions for the Kim regime, including the financing and coordination of ship-to-ship transfers."

This graphic image shows the route by which two Mercedes vehicles were shipped to North Korea from the Netherlands via China, Japan, South Korea and Russia in 2018, according to a report by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a research group in Washington. (Yonhap)


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