DPRK imports hundreds of cars in last week

According to the Choson Ilbo:

A North Korean source saw around 30 identical vehicles crossing the bridge across the Apnok (or Yalu) River into Sinuiju at around 9 a.m. The vehicles were the Chinese compact sedan F3 manufactured by BYD, referred to as the “people’s car” in China due to its popularity. Around 100 cars reportedly crossed the border into North Korea on Tuesday alone. Starting last week, North Korea brought in more than 200 cars, including luxury foreign cars, jeeps and large vans. The total value of the imported cars is believed to be around US$5 million.

The North Korean regime often seeks to ensure the loyalty of senior officials by handing out the latest foreign-made cars on Kim Il-sung’s or Kim Jong-il’s birthday, but the Chinese-made cars imported this time are believed to be gifts for the middle ranks. “To my knowledge, the latest cars are gifts for mid-level officials at North Korea’s prosecution and state security agency and have been allocated to specific people in different regions,” the source said.

North Korea watchers believe the cars were bought to boost the morale of such officials, who were hit hard by the botched currency reform in December. “Failing to take care of mid-ranking officials could jeopardize the transfer of power to Kim Jong-il’s third son Jong-un,” said one North Korea expert. “The purpose of the gifts is to appease discontent.”

Judging from the pictures, it looks like the cars were driven across the Sinuiju/Dandong Sino-DPRK Friendship Bridge.  Satellite image here

So it appears the Kim Jong il uses automobiles in the same way foreign governments use international aid in North Korea–to “purchase” influence and support.  If the strategy works on a domestic level (within the DPRK), why does it have so much trouble on an international level?  Feel free to discuss.   

Read the full story here:
Kim Jong-il Imports Hundreds of Cars for Loyal Officials
Choson Ilbo


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