Kwon Jeong Hyun
An order was made by North Korean authorities prohibiting the use of all Japanese cars until the year 2009. Though this only applies to old cars manufactured before 2003, it seems that the orders are being enforced stronger than expected.
The drivers seat of cars manufactured after 2004 are being changed to the right hand side by the Japanese Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan), informed a source on the 25th.
In addition, all Japanese cars have been banned from entering Pyongyang excluding cars with permits (such as governmental or company cars). As a result, many Japanese delivery services are experiencing hardship.
This kind of order was made around Kim Jong Il’s birthday on February 16th by central authorities with inspection conducted by the transportation department of the Social Safety Agency in both the rural districts and Pyongyang.
These orders were made amidst a time when relations between North and South Korea had worsened and when a broken down Japanese car blocked the road while Kim Jong Il was on his way to worship at his the Kim Il Song Memorial.
Regarding this, one safety traffic official of Pyongyang city informed, “Cars which have been produced with the South such as the “Hweparam (whistle)” and “Arirang” are being regulated by the nation. National income is being increased by selling these. Further, the regulations were enforced to control the people who were making lots of money by trading cars illegally.”
The Pyeonghwa Motors which operates under the control of the Unification Church has been working in collaboration with North Korea. Since 2002, cars and mini buses have been supplied after parts had been put together at the factory.
This order by North Korean authorities has been enforced strongly and has lasted much longer than expected. Hence many traders and individuals are expressing discontent.
Japanese cars are being sold at ridiculously low prices with yet another year and 2 months remaining until the ban is lifted. People who took out loans in order to purchase the cars are being pressured by their debtors, a source informed.