North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (File photo)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (File photo)

Despite UN sanctions, Kim Jong-un sneaks in armoured black Mercedes-Benzes limos in N Korea

ANI | Updated: Aug 03, 2019 22:51 IST

Pyongyang [North Korea], Aug 3 (ANI): North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has regularly flashed his armoured black Mercedes-Benzes limousine on the streets of Singapore, Hanoi and Vladivostok during summit meetings with President Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Kim has been using them in open defiance of United Nations sanctions intended to ban luxury goods from North Korea.
In light of the same, the New York Times and Centre for Defense Studies carried out an intense investigation to find out how the car reached the country.
The research divulged that high-end western goods are making their way to North Korea's elite through a complex system of port transfers, secret high-seas shipping and shadowy front companies.
In June 2018, two sealed containers, each holding a Mercedes worth USD 500,000, were brought by truck into a shipping terminal at the port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, according to cargo tracking records.
The cars travelled by ship for 41 days to Dalian, in northeast China.
The containers were off-loaded after the ship's arrival on July 31. They remained in the port until August 26. They were then put on a ship for Osaka, Japan. From there, they were put on a vessel for a three-day voyage to Busan, South Korea, where they arrived on September 30.
This is where things get interesting. Within one day of arrival, the containers, along with the cars in them, were transferred to a Russian ghost ship, which went dark after it turned off the automatic identification system before it heads onto an unknown location.
After 18 days, the ship reappeared. The tracker signal came back on again, but the ship, this time, was on a return trip to Busan, carrying 2,588 metric tons of coal, which it later unloaded in another South Korean port, Pohang.
Customs records in South Korea showed that the ship had taken on the coal in Nakhodka, the report from the Center for Advanced Defence Studies said.
Ship traffic data and shipping agency executives said the ship had reported Nakhodka, a port city located next to Vladivostok in far-east Russia, as its destination after leaving Busan with the cars.
The shipment used to be called Xiang Jin and had links to North Korea. However, shortly before it received the car, its name changed to DN5505 with its ownership being under Do Young Shipping, a shell company based out of Marshall Islands. This shipping company is owned by the Russian National. To make things even complicated, it is to be noted that the ship sails under the flag of West African nation Togo and its safety manager are based out of Hong Kong.
Four months later, on January 31, 2019, the same model of Mercedes drove through the streets of Pyongyang to the headquarters of the central committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, according to video footage released by the North Korean state media. (ANI)