North Korea may be reliant on overseas countries to feed its people, but that isn't keeping leader Kim Jong-un from partaking of numerous luxury shopping trips.
A report to South Korea's parliament shows its northern neighbor has sharply increased its imports of luxury products, from the estimated $300 million in 2011 under the late Kim Jong-Il, Mr. Kim's father and predecessor, to the 2012 figure of $645.8 million, the Telegraph reported.
Among the imports: Pets and pet food, sauna systems, specialty maternity products, musical instruments, cosmetics, luxury handbags and other leather products, top-of-the-line watches, and cars stamped as "made in Japan" and "made in China." Also among the purchases were high-end alcohol, to the tune of $30 million in 2012, and electronic items, about $37 million worth. The regime imported $8.2 million in luxury watches alone, the Telegraph said.
Seoul officials find the purchases curious at a time when half of North Korea is starving and the other half — outside of the elite ruling class, that is — struggling to make ends meet.
"The products were given as gifts to key figures in North Korean society to ensure their loyalty to the regime," Yoon Sang-hyun, with the ruling South Korean Saenuri Party, told Seoul parliamentarians.
The North Korean dictator had several additional splurges, including a military-constructed "world class" ski resort at Masik Pass Skiing Ground, and touring aboard a $7 million yacht within the past few months, Mr. Yoon said.
A few weeks ago, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that about 2.8 million of North Korean residents are considered "vulnerable" for starvation, and needed outside food donations to live until harvest season.
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