North Korea spent $600m on luxury items in 2012 while North Korean citizens starved to death

According to a UN report, North Korea’s spending on luxury goods has more than doubled from an average of $300 million a year to $646 million in 2012, when Kim Jong-un assumed control following his father’s death, Kim Jong-il. The 372-page report said the country continues to allocate a “significant amount of state resources for the purchase and important of luxury goods” while hunger and malnutrition take a heavy toll on the population.

These items violate UN sanctions imposed on North Korea prohibiting “the provision of luxury goods” adopted in 2007. The report did not examine how the items were imported into the country.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un reportedly treated himself to a dozen luxury cars, top quality pianos and a private theatre for his closest allies and top aides.

A former North Korean official who managed to escape the country said Kim funded his lavish lifestyle by trafficking ivory from Africa to China and selling alcohol to Islamic countries. The money was transferred into parallel funds outside of the state budget to cover “personal expenses of the Supreme leader, his family and other elites”.

[The Independent]