How dictator Kim Jong Un managed to buy two Mercedes S 600 Guard

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Sanctions don’t work for the world’s great dictators, as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un managed to buy two Mercedes S 600 Guard models to give Vladimir Putin, who was visiting North Korea, a ride in.

On the occasion of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un took his counterpart around the capital of Pyongyang in one of two Mercedes S 600 Guard.

The cars are not new, being the older generation model (W222) launched in 2013 and received an armored version in 2014. They were first spotted in January 2019 in Pyongyang.

The question is how Kim Jong Un managed to avoid sanctions imposed on his country and buy these cars. The independent organization C4 ADS, cited by the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport explains in detail.

Fascinating journey of the containers with Mercedes S 600 Guard

The journey of the two luxury limousines began on June 14, 2018, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in two containers transported on a cargo ship. After 41 days at sea, they arrived in the Chinese port of Dalian. On August 26, the two containers sailed further to the Japanese port of Osaka, where they arrived on September 18. Then, on September 27, the two containers set off again from Osaka to Busan in South Korea, where they arrived on September 30.

Mercedes S 600 Guard

After this point, the containers disappear as the transportation of the two containers from Busan to Nakhodka in Russia’s Far East takes place in a different way than officially planned. The ship DN5505, under the flag of Togo, was due to leave on September 30 and arrive on October 5. The DN5505 is registered in the Marshall Islands by Do Young Shipping Co., Ltd. and has been involved in illegal actions in North Korea in the past.

The ship did not arrive at its destination on October 5 as planned, but only on October 19. Still, there is no record of it docking in one of the five ports in eastern Russia – Nakhodka, Vladivostok, Posiet, Zarubino, and Vostochny. The ship identification system (AIS) was unable to find where the ship was between October 1 and October 19.

After 18 days of disappearance, the ship reappeared, but without containers. Instead, the documents show that the ship was carrying 2,588 loose coals from Nakhodka. During the 18-day disappearance, between October 1 and October 19, two Ilyushin-76 cargo planes of the North Korean national carrier Air Koryo flew from Pyongyang to Vladivostok in Russia and returned the same day. These planes are used by the Korean dictator to transport armored vehicles when he travels to foreign countries.

Since the transfer of the containers was not recorded, it is possible that the transfer took place at sea between the DN5505 and a sister ship called Katrin. In recent years, there have been numerous “ship-to-ship” refueling or waterborne transactions in North Korean waters.

Although imports of luxury goods to North Korea have been halted since 2006, sanctions are sometimes avoided.

The Mercedes S 600 Guard cars are worth €450,000 + VAT each. The car was introduced in 2014 and is the first vehicle certified with the highest ballistic protection level VR9 (according to BRV 2009, version 2).

When it comes to protection against explosives, the S-Class proved its capability by fulfilling the requirements of ERV 2010 (roof, floor, sides) and Germany’s Federal Office of Criminal Investigation.

Mercedes representatives said that Mercedes has had no business ties with North Korea for more than 15 years and complies with US and EU embargoes. Furthermore, Mercedes has a strict export control protocol. But it cannot control the possible resale of these cars as used vehicles made by a third party.