North Korean Officials Attend Party Meeting in Luxury Sedans Amid Sanctions

PYONGYANG - Key North Korean officials were seen arriving in luxury vehicles for a year-end meeting of the ruling Worker's Party, as revealed by state media footage on Wednesday. The gathering, which included high-ranking figures such as Premier Kim Tok-hun, Jo Yong-won, and Choe Ryong-hae, was held in Pyongyang, showcasing a display of opulence despite international sanctions against the country.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the officials, including Premier Kim Tok-hun; Jo Yong-won, the secretary for organizations affairs at the ruling Workers' Party; and Choe Ryong-hae, the chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly, were seen using Mercedes-Benz S-class cars to attend the party meeting. This event was part of the plenary session of the ruling party led by Kim Jong-un, focusing on reviewing state policies for the current year and planning for 2024.

The footage, aired on December 27, 2023, showed a soldier escorting Premier Kim from an eighth-generation S-class limousine, while Jo and Choe each emerged from luxury cars believed to be ninth- and eighth-generation S-class sedans, respectively. Additionally, a second-generation model of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class vehicle, presumed to belong to Kim Jong-un, was also spotted nearby.

Kim Jong-un's preference for high-end vehicles has been noted in the past, with various appearances in different models of Mercedes-Maybach S-class vehicles. In August 2020, he was seen driving a vehicle assumed to be a Lexus LX 570. This display of luxury comes amid U.N. sanctions that specifically prohibit the supply of luxury automobiles to North Korea. Despite these sanctions, the North Korean leadership continues to spend significantly on luxury goods, as reported by South Korea's unification ministry in October, highlighting the stark contrast with the country's ongoing food shortages and economic challenges.

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