This is how Kim Jong-un procures his armoured Mercedes cars

You know, if something is not available in our home country, we take help from our friends or relatives who might be traveling abroad to get the product along with them while returning. Simple and easy. But what about Kim Jong-un? How does he procure the things he want despite numerous sanctions imposed against his country?

The country we’re talking about is, of course, North Korea. The place where the general public has no access to the internet or the outside world. Even the hairstyles need to be from a pre-approved palette. Crazy stuff, I know. One of the sanctions imposed against North Korea includes the ban on export of luxury goods. Which means, Kim can’t directly buy an armoured Mercedes-Benz. The cars in question are the S-Guards and the ones based on the Pullman.

I stumbled upon an investigative report from The New York Times which reveals how Kim might be evading those sanctions. The NYT partners with the Centre For Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) and using the shipping data, corporate records and satellite imagery, they try to uncover some secrets.

It all begins at a shipping port in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The cars are loaded on to a container ship which takes the route that goes through Suez Canal. The cars then arrive at the Port of Dalian in China. From China, they go to a port in Japan and then to Busan, South Korea. This is where things get interesting. In South Korea, a ghost ship owned by a Russian national picks up the containers containing the cars. When it leaves Busan, it turns off its transponders only to reappear a couple of weeks later carrying coal. Confusing right? it’s all a part of the plan.

After turning off its transponder, the Russian-owned ship is believed to offload the cars at the Port of Vladivostok in Russia, where the Russian guy is also believed to be residing. From there, a North Korean military aircraft flew the cars home. It is believed that North Korea has found similar ways to procure dangerous goods too.

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