By on April 26, 2019

Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman

Daimler, maker of top-end Mercedes-Maybach automobiles, is on the hot seat after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was spotted scooting around in brand new armored limos at recent international summits.

Sales of luxury automobiles to the despotic regime are banned under a UN Security Council resolution passed in 2013, and Daimler does not count it as one of its customers. Still, the country’s leader travels in uncompromising Germanic style.

Kim is frequently seen riding in a previous-generation S-Class stretch limousine, usually flanked by a dozen panting bodyguards dressed in classic 1960s spy show garb. Those motorcades also contain a Maybach 62 — a vehicle that ceased production at the tail end of 2012.

However, it’s a sparklingly new Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard that’s raising eyebrows of late. North Korea watcher raised the issue in February after the armored sedan was seen driving to the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee building. The Mercedes-Maybach model also ushered Kim to a Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year, and was on hand this week during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok.

Other top-end Daimler products have been photographed lurking around DPRK leadership.

When ed by the , Daimler claimed it was stumped as to where the vehicles originated.

“We have absolutely no idea how those vehicles were delivered to North Korea,” Daimler spokeswoman Silke Mockert wrote in response to the query. “For Daimler, the correct export of products in conformance with the law is a fundamental principle of responsible entrepreneurial activity.”

Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman

Going the S600 Guard route spells opulent accommodations for any passenger worried about nearby grenade blasts or 7.62mm (.30-calibre) rifle or machine gun fire, though former French president Charles de Gaulle aptly demonstrated that a stock Citroen DS is all you need to come away unscathed. We never learn from history.

Continuing in her defense of the automaker, Mockert said, “Our company has had no business connections with North Korea for far more than 15 years now and strictly complies with E.U. and U.S. embargoes. To prevent deliveries to North Korea and to any of its embassies worldwide, Daimler has implemented a comprehensive export control process. Sales of vehicles by third parties, especially of used vehicles, are beyond our control and responsibility.”

Indeed, if you’ve got power and money and aren’t afraid of bending some rules, possessions can just fall into your lap. A professor of Korean studies at Tufts University claims it’s not much of a mystery as to how Kim snagged his German fleet.

“I’d say a new Mercedes is a luxury goods violation by North Korea and, probably, its Chinese middlemen,” Sung-Yoon Lee told .

“It’s business as usual. That is, blatant violation of UNSC sanctions not only by North Korea but also almost certainly by Mercedes, certainly by the country from which the sedan was shipped to China (lack of due diligence), and by China itself.”

[Images: Daimler]

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55 Comments on “Daimler Has ‘Absolutely No Idea’ How North Korea Got Its Mercedes-Maybach Limos...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Cars are pretty easy to move around the world (despite Elon Musk’s thoughts to the contrary). I assume these Mercs can be “laundered” through 3rd and 4th parties with no problems at all, just supply cash and / or drugs.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Exactly. Recruit some local business in Saudi Arabia. Pay them to purchase a car. Ship it over to Philipines, from there the to China and finally to N.Korea. Go find the end. Although, if someone wanted to, if they check VIN, they could tell where this car was shipped originally.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    It’s pretty obvious they were obtained via black market Russia or China, I mean no self-respecting communist dictator would be without his Maybach

    Power to the workers and all that

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I doubt that original shipping destination for it was Russia or China. Most likely Saudi Arabia. That would be most obscure purchase. Who is not driving Maybach in Saudi Arabia? China and Europe [in total] biggest customers for Maybach

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Spot on. The Saudi Royal family is huge and a bottomless pit of luxury cars. There are junkyards filled with horrendously expensive luxury cars that have minor body or mechanical damage and were not repaired. The owners just buy a new one.

        Incidentally, that would be a good business, buying up the damaged vehicles and repairing them for sale elsewhere. If it’s not being done, there must be import/export or parts problems, or it would have been done by now.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “Power to the workers and all that”

    _THIS_ .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Kim should really be buying American as his grandfather did, couldn’t you see his fat ass in a CT6?

  • avatar

    Any number of parties would deliver it to NK for a fee, and one which is well within the lavish spending of the Kims.

    I don’t think Daimler is at fault here.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Shortsighted politicians. The best way to destroy this regime is to flood it with western consumer products. Throw bubble gum packs out of planes, land a dozen of playstations there. You can urge patriotism all day long but if your choice of cars is a Mercedes your patriotic messages will ring really hollow with your peasants.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “In the end, we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time, our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines.”

    • 0 avatar

      They do already. There is a network of bootleg thumb drives with SK programming. The operating system used in NK keeps track of copied media and phones home to state security. Most NK use si simple media players to view so viewing is probably safe but copying is reported. The west germans made sure east germany got a great tv signal so they could watch west tv all day. East germans thought Dallas was reality. The tv show was quite popular inthe east

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    So, who does Kim Jong Un get to work on these when something goes wrong? Was a Merc slave mechanic included in the deal?

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      Why would anything go wrong on a high end Mercedes? Um…German engineering! Haven’t you seen the commercials? The best or nothing!

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      He probably imported the best available, from Cuba. The average Cuban backyard mechanic can work miracles.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      He just takes it back to the dealer who sold it to him. China is pretty much the most important market for these things anymore, and one of the reasons it is, is specifically because most Chinese have better things to concern themselves with, than silly “export bans,” “sanctions” and similar displays of petty nonsense. Heck, they’re letting the dude play with nukes; what’s a cheezy Benz?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Ironically, while the cars are banned, I bet, ordering the part for it is not a problem

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is the same as all those new Toyota Hilux trucks we saw being driven around by ISIS baddies.

    It’s not Daimler’s fault, and it wasn’t Toyota’s fault.

    Now I understand the value of the dealer sales model!

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Or the the truck that had “Joe’s Plumbing, Houston Tx.” written on it. Joe caught a lot of flack for that

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      Weren’t those Toyota’s supplied to Syrian freedom fighters? And then somehow it turned out that the freedom fighters and ISIS were one and the same?
      Go figure. Probably, Kim got his Merc from the US as a present during negotiations.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I have no respect for any dictator that doesn’t rock a 600 Pullman.

  • avatar
    mittencuh

    The answer is always Miata.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    North Korea actually has a dedicated government agency handling these kind of imports. It’s called Office 39, though sometimes it’s referred to as Room 39 or Bureau 39. Its main function is keeping the Kims and their elite cadre in cash, and the luxury goods to spend it on, usually via illegal means.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      I can’t imagine how the Kim regime could acquire these things LEGALLY, what with sanctions and such in place around the world.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Office 39 runs all kinds of front companies in other countries, especially in Singapore and Malaysia. And North Korea goes pretty far to ensure that its agents can pass for citizens of other countries. That’s why they maintained a program of kidnapping foreign citizens – so those people could train NK agents.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      We have this kind agency as well. It called CIA. If you want to illegally obtain Russian titanium to build RS-71, or move cocaine into US and use money to move weapons out of US… tell me what not?

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    Don’t manufacturers/dealers keep track of who bought each VIN?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes and no.

      For instance, Honda has had great difficulty tracking down the last few owners of their cars with spontaneously-bursting Takata airbags. You would think the police or the state DOTs would keep track of VINs anywhere in the country.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Of factory armored Benzes, all twelve of them, probably…. But they also have to credibly deny doing so, since more equals are supposed to be able to track mere equals; not the other way around.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      Okay, sure. But who has gotten close enough to Kim’s Benz to read the VIN? Are you volunteering?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “You know it’s bad when Cadillac can’t even get 3rd world dictators to drive them :(”

    Lie2me:
    The sentence is hilarious, because -sadly- it is true.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The key word is that “sales” are banned to despots, but it says nothing about leases. It is also smart for little Kim to lease, because German reliability goes to hell after 3 years and no dictator wants that sort of parts and service headache.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    What’s the big deal here? Aren’t the US and DPRK BFFs now? Unless the issue is a secret ban on German exports ’cause those Germans can’t be trusted…

  • avatar
    Carrera

    UAE is a big clearinghouse for all kinds of stuff. The whole country is a big foreign trade zone. They used as ultimate consignee some FTZ there and from there stuff ends up in Iran, N. Korea, Sudan,etc.

  • avatar

    Check the CarFax !

    Really, though, all you need to do is buy one…anywhere in the world. Pay the new owner a premium. Send to non US controlled port. Done.


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