North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has captured the attention of the West for more than just his sabre rattling. Now Western officials want to know how he got his Mercedes-branded limos when North Korea faces sanctions from the U.S. and several other countries. Daimler says it has no idea how Kim Jong-un’s limos got to him in North Korea because it has no dealings with the country.
Luxury good sales to North Korea banned
Kim Jong-un has used his Mercedes limos at a number of key summits, like his meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to NBC. U.N. sanctions bar sales of luxury goods such as stretch limousines to North Korea in an attempt to convince Jong-un to halt his nuclear weapon program. In other words, Jong-un shouldn’t have been able to import limos.
However, Kim Jong-un’s limos were waiting for him at the train station in Vladivostok, Russia for his meeting with Putin. One is a Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman Guard, while the other is a Maybach S62. NBC reports that he probably used the S600 in Vietnam and Singapore last year when he met with Trump.
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Daimler has “no idea” how Kim Jong-un’s limos got to him
According to CBS, a spokesperson for Daimler said they “have absolutely no idea how those vehicles [Kim Jong-un’s limos] were delivered to North Korea. The automaker is based in Germany, and North Korea isn’t among its official customers. The spokesperson added that Daimler “has had no business connections with North Korea for far more than 15 years now and strictly complies with E.U. and U.S. embargoes.”
Of course, third-party sales of the automaker’s vehicles are out of the company’s control, so North Korea probably must have the two Mercedes limos through one of those channels. The fact that Kim was was able to secure the two vehicles despite the sanctions demonstrates how difficult it is to fully enforce trade sanctions such as those against North Korea.
Business Insider reports that Kim Jong-un’s limos likely cost “well over $1 million each” when he purchased them, probably after 2010, based on their exterior design. The first photos of the two vehicles were taken in 2014.