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Global Economy

North Korea's Kim Jong Un receives car as gift from Putin – KCNA

© Reuters. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un attend a meeting at the Vostochny Сosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, September 13, 2023. Sputnik/Artem Geodakyan/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

By Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has received a car from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as a gift “for his personal use”, official media reported on Tuesday, in what could be a violation of U.N. ban that Moscow had agreed to adopt against Pyongyang.

The two countries have forged closer ties since Kim and Putin met in September and pledged to promote exchanges in all areas as their international isolation deepened over Russia’s war in Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.

The Russian-made car was delivered to Kim’s top aides by the Russian side on Feb. 18, official KCNA news agency said.

Kim’s sister “courteously conveyed Kim Jong Un’s thanks to Putin to the Russian side, saying that the gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders,” KCNA said.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said it was closely monitoring the cooperation between Russia and North Korea while urging both countries to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions.

“Security Council sanctions on North Korea prohibit directly or indirectly supplying, selling or moving all transportation vehicles internationally categorized as HS Code 86 through to 89 regardless of their origin to North Korea including luxury cars,” ministry spokesperson Lim Soo-suk told a media briefing.

Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s RIA state news agency that the Korean leader received an Aurus car.

According to the carmaker’s website, the car is Russia’s first full-size luxury sedan. It is also Putin’s presidential car. In September, while visiting Russia’s space launch station in the far east, Kim inspected the Aurus Senat limousine and was invited by the Russian leader to climb into the back seat.

Kim himself drove to the site in a Maybach limousine brought onboard a special train he travelled in from Pyongyang.

Kim is believed to be an avid automobile enthusiast and has a large collection of luxury foreign vehicles, which are likely smuggled in.

The Maybach and others he had been seen in including several Mercedes limousines, a Rolls-Royce (LON:) Phantom and a Lexus sports utility vehicle fall under luxury goods that U.N. Security Council resolutions ban from export to North Korea.

North Korea is believed to be supplying artillery, rockets and ballistic missiles to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine.

The Kremlin has not denied nor confirmed its use of North Korean-made weapons. North Korea denies the accusation of arms shipment to Russia, which would also be violations of U.N. sanctions.

On Tuesday, KCNA separately reported that a delegation of North Korea ruling party officials returned from Russia and three delegations, representing information technology, fisheries and sports, departed for Russia.