Being dictator of the world’s most isolated country can be an expensive proposition. That’s the bad news.
The good news is it’s not your money, so you can do whatever you want wherever you want whenever you want. As long as you execute some people now and then to keep all the others in line.
North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jung-un has about a dozen different housing compounds of multiple acres, the better to keep would-be assassins uncertain of his exact whereabouts.
He has several city housing compounds. For these hot summer days, he has his own luxurious beach resort to get away from the boredom of luxurious city life. And, of course, a 200-foot luxury yacht to toodle up and down his country’s seacoast.
He also has a luxury remodeled Russian jet, though Kim seems to prefer railroad travel. Naturally, he had private railroad stations built next to a half dozen of his homes.
Dennis Rodman, the former NBA player who became Kim’s friend, recalls the ocean house is on an island “like going to Hawaii or Ibiza, but he’s the only one that lives there. He’s got 50 to 60 people around him all the time, just normal people, drinking cocktails and laughing the whole time.
“If you drink a bottle of tequila, it’s the best tequila,” Rodman adds. “Everything you want, he has the best.” Never mind those starving among his 24 million countrymen.
The next thing is, how do you get around safely? Any decent dictator needs a good limo, at least one, preferably armored. Obviously, from his prep school days in Switzerland, Kim knows the most luxurious is Mercedes.
The problem is this American president who thinks he can negotiate the nuclear weapons and missile programs away from Kim. Donald Trump has slapped some tough economic sanctions on North Korea and convinced other countries to go along.
This makes it seemingly impossible to acquire things like luxury Mercedes limos and get them to the top half of the North Korean peninsula where traffic is never a problem. Impossible just takes a little longer in today’s world of leaky sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal’s Timothy Martin did some reporting and produced a fascinating story on how Kim got his two $500,000 limos around Trump’s sanctions. The cars’ circuitous travels (Subscription) mirror similar routes for acquiring luxury items like name brand clothing, iPhones, liquor and designer cosmetics.
Kim has a wife, which can be a dangerous occupation in that country. South Korean newspapers reported a former Kim girlfriend was executed by firing squad. And years ago his grandmother was found dead in the family garden having stabbed herself in the back several times.
Last summer the cars set off on a 41-day sea journey from the Netherlands to China and then to Japan to Russia. Four months after departure, they showed up in Russia where some North Korean state planes ferried them to Pyongyang.
There, come January, Kim was spotted riding around in a modified Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard car. Then, last month he was able to shepherd China’s President Xi Jinping along a jubilant Pyongyang parade route in appropriate dictator style.