You can buy anything your heart desires in this North Korean store: premium blended whisky, jewelry and perfume. Or you can pick up a brand new drum set or a saxophone that’s carefully displayed in a glass case. CNN has reported that there’s a catch. The department store is cash only. And the profits could go to an illegal nuclear weapons program.
New images released as part of a yearlong investigation by NK Pro, an independent North Korea monitoring group, shows just what money can buy in two luxury Pyongyang department stores.In much of the countryside, humanitarian groups say North Koreans live in grinding poverty. But in the capital, there is clearly money to spend.
“I saw North Koreans paying with hundred dollar notes for items costing more than $2,000,” said a senior Western diplomat who was based in Pyongyang and visited the stores several years ago.
Anybody with hard US currency was allowed to shop there, he said.The world is accustomed to trying to keep goods out of North Korea.
Missile technology and military hardware have long been barred by United Nations sanctions.
But faced with the regime’s steady march towards nuclear armament, the UN Security Council has added luxury imports like racing cars, pearls, sports goods, and expensive watches to the sanctions list.
If they wanted to punish the ruling elite, it doesn’t appear to be working. Several items for sale in the NK Pro photos appear to be banned.
There is a whole shelf dedicated to products from Montblanc, the German luxury brand, including a watch with a price tag of more than $4,000 — at official conversion rates.
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