< Go to Homepage

Where North Korea’s Elite Shop for Banned Luxury Goods

Rich residents of Pyongyang can get their hands on anything they want — with a catch.

Politics By

Money talks in Pyongyang, and it’s telling North Korea’s elite customers two words: Cash only.

A yearlong investigation by the North Korea monitoring group NK Pro found that luxury goods from the likes of Burberry, Montblanc and Lanvin can be purchased in Pyongyang department stores by anyone with hard U.S. currency — and the profits might be going to an illegal nuclear weapons program, CNN reports.

“I saw North Koreans paying with hundred dollar notes for items costing more than $2,000,” a senior Western diplomat reportedly told the network. This is despite international efforts to keep goods — including missile technology and military hardware — out of a country with a regime that’s steadily marching towards nuclear armament.

“They earn a lot of dollars and cash from these luxurious department stores by selling all these goods and they re-allocate these dollars into their priorities like the nuclear and missile program,” Kim Kwang Jin, a North Korea defector who helped finance illicit important into North Korea, told CNN. “Luxury goods sales help them build more missile and nuclear material.”

Read full story at CNN