N. Korea's luxury goods imports surge
Kim Jong - Photo: Corbis
North Korea spent $272.1 million in 2008, $322.5 million in 2009 and $446.1 million last year on importing luxury items, Yoon Sang-Hyun of the ruling Grand National Party said in a report disclosed during a parliamentary meeting.
"Despite international sanctions and persistent food shortages, North Korea has increased imports of luxury goods," he said, citing what he called data compiled by South Korean and foreign governments.
The United Nations has banned trade in luxury goods to North Korea as part of sanctions which were toughened in 2009 after a second nuclear test.
The communist state suffers widespread food shortages and relies on overseas aid to feed millions of its people.
But imports of luxury goods have surged especially after leader Kim Jong-Il suffered a stroke in August 2008 and speeded up plans for a second eventual dynastic succession, Yoon said.
The lawmaker accused Kim of having engaged in "gift politics" by showering top aides and the elite with luxury goods to win loyalty to the ruling family.
Kim Jong-Un, youngest son and heir apparent to the 69-year-old leader, was made a general and given senior communist party posts in September last year, confirming his status as leader-in-waiting.
Last year televisions, digital cameras and other electronic devices topped the list of luxury goods with $215.9 million, Yoon said, adding about $9.01 million was spent on buying whisky and other alcoholic beverages.
Kim senior has been portrayed by visitors and defectors as someone who enjoys fine dining, cognac and other luxuries.
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