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N. Korean imports of luxury goods jump as Kim Jong-un comes to power
SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's imports of luxury goods, such as foreign-brand appliances, cars and liquor, have steadily increased in recent years, as Kim Jong-un began his ascent to power as the favored son of the late Kim Jong-il, a parliamentary report showed Thursday.

   The communist country's inbound shipments of luxury goods amounted to $322.5 million in 2009 before rising to $446.2 million in 2010 and $584.8 million last year, the report by Saenuri Party lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun showed.

   The report tallied up China-North Korea trade figures given by China's customs authorities. China is the major trading partner for the isolated communist North.

   Annual imports of luxury goods reached only around $300 million in 2008 and 2009 before late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2010 officially anointed his youngest son, Jong-un, to become the next leader.

   The younger Kim took over power last December following his father's death.

   "Following Kim Jong-un's ascent as successor, North Korea has squandered a lot more dollars on importing luxury items for the Kim family as well as for the privileged class in Pyongyang," Yoon said.

   Nearly half of the luxury goods imported last year were foreign-brand electronics, followed by imported vehicles, high-end watches and expensive liquor, the report said.

   Yoon noted the regime is doling such luxuries out to power groups in Pyongyang in efforts to solidify the Kim Jong-un leadership.

   pbr@yna.co.kr
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