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North Korea imports $2.09b worth of luxury goods for 3 years

North Korea imports $2.09b worth of luxury goods for 3 years

SEOUL: North Korea imported $2.09 billion worth of luxury goods for three years under the Kim Jong-un regime despite United Nations sanctions banning the transfer of such goods to the country, a South Korean lawmaker said Thursday, citing Chinese customs data.

Luxury goods, including certain kinds of jewelry, precious stones, carpets, yachts, luxury automobiles and racing cars, have been banned from transfer to North Korea under three U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted in response to the North’s nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and 2013.

Still, North Korea continues to buy luxury items from China, Europe and Southeast Asia, Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling Saenuri Party said, citing Chinese customs data on two-way trade with North Korea from 2012 to 2014.

“No strong sanction can stop North Korea’s series of nuclear provocations,” Yoon said, referring that Pyongyang has repeatedly skirted the sanctions.

Noticeably, nearly $800 million worth of goods, mostly electronic gadgets, were imported to Pyongyang in 2014, compared to $644 million in 2013 and $645 million in 2012, the lawmaker said.

In recent years, the communist country has especially bought more liquor, watches, handbags, cosmetics, jewelry and carpets, leading to a doubling of imports of luxury goods under the current leader, Kim Jong-un, from an average of $300 million under his father and former leader Kim Jong-il, who died in December 2011.

Yoon said increasing imports of luxury goods was Kim’s way of impressing senior party and military officials who form the core class that preserves the regime.