Kim Jong Un Accused of Trying to Smuggle Luxury Lexus into North Korea


An attempt to smuggle a $70,000 Lexus into North Korea was foiled by Japanese police last week, authorities said.

Police on December 7 raided a dealer’s headquarters in the city of Chiba to collect evidence for alleged violations of the Japanese Customs Act.

The purported interception brings to light North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s fondness for luxury automobiles. Despite a 2013 UN sanction that bans the export of high-end cars and other luxury items to North Korea, Kim has been spotted in a Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 and a Lexus LX SUV in recent years, according to NK News, a U.S.-based North Korea-focused media organization.

The base price of the Mercedes-Maybach is around $200,000, according to reports.

Kim’s late father and former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was also reported to offer Mercedes-Benzes to loyal officials.

As first reported by The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese daily newspaper, a dealer attempted to smuggle a Lexus, worth 10 million Japanese yen, into North Korea through Bangladesh. The dealer claimed Singapore to be the final destination of the car.

Japanese authorities got wind of the scheme before the vehicle was sent to North Korea, according to reports.

Kim in North Korea
North Korean bodyguards jog next to a Mercedes-Benz carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 27, 2018. An attempt by Kim to smuggle a $70,000 Lexus into North Korea was foiled by Japanese police last week, authorities said.
KOREA SUMMIT PRESS POOL/AFP/Getty Images

Newsweek has reached out to the United Nations and The Foundation for Defense of Democracies for additional comments on Monday.

Vehicles aren’t the only luxury items on Kim and his family’s list.

According to the Gangnam Times, during a 2020 speech, observers noted Kim wearing a Swiss IWC Portofino Automatic wristwatch, valued at approximately $1,185. Last year, Kim’s 10-year-old daughter, Kim Ju Ae, was seen sporting a black coat, presumed to be made by Dior, worth around $2,030.

While the smuggling of luxury cars, watches and clothes may not be the most pressing issue on the Korean Peninsula, according to experts, it does demonstrate North Korea’s consistent defiance of international regulations and UN sanctions.

North Korea also faces a 2017 UN sanction that bans exporting transportation means to the country.

In a recent meeting between national security advisers of the United States, South Korea and Japan, there were calls for a stronger international push to suppress North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles, its cybertheft activities and alleged arms transfers to Russia, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the countries have agreed to new initiatives to more effectively respond to North Korean efforts to bypass international sanctions.

“This will be a new effort with respect to cryptocurrency and money laundering and how we disrupt North Korea’s capacity to gain revenue from the hacking and stealing of cryptocurrency and then laundering it through exchanges,” he said.