Buying the favours of the strong men of North Korea

Kim Jong-il is trying to buy the favours of the military strong men by showering them with luxury items.

Perhaps Gareth Morgan needs to read this to find out his trip through North Korea might not have covered everything.

Imports of pets, saunas, alcohol and electronics into North Korea more than doubled in the year after Kim Jong-un took power in an apparent bid by the young leader to curry favour with senior officials and military officers.

According to a report submitted to the South Korean parliament today, imports of luxury goods amounted to $645.8 million in 2012, a sharp increase from the average of around $300 million a year under his father, Kim Jong-il.

Most of his people may be lacking food, medicine and access to most basic services, but the reclusive regime’s luxury purchases included pets, pet food, bathroom fittings, sauna systems and maternity products, Yonhap News quoted Yoon Sang-hyun, of the ruling Saenuri Party, as telling the parliament in Seoul. 

The data also pointed to a sudden increase in imports of musical instruments, cosmetics, handbags, leather products, watches and cars made in Japan and China.

Imports of bottles of high-end alcohol cost $30 million (£20 million), with electronic goods costing the state $37 million and luxury watches a further $8.2 million.

“The products were given as gifts to key figures in North Korean society to ensure their loyalty to the regime,” Mr Yoon told the parliament.

Kim is likely to be spending more than his father on senior members of the party and the military as he attempts to build his own power base from which to run the country.

There have been reports of dissent within sections of elite concerned at the youth and inexperience of their new leader and cars, pets and perfume are apparently bribes designed to quash any rumblings of discontent.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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