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N. Korea still using Volvo cars bought 43 yrs ago from Sweden without payment: report

2017/10/25 10:09

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SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is still using Volvo cars as taxis outside Pyongyang that it bought from Sweden 43 years ago without honoring its debts for the vehicles, Voice of America reported Wednesday.

Citing Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman Katarina Roslund, VOA's Korean Service said Volvo vehicles are not easily seen in Pyongyang and the Volvo 133 model cars still run in the countryside frequently as taxis.

VOA earlier reported North Korea's debt to Sweden currently amount to SEK 2.7 billion (around US$330 million) and account for 45 percent of the entire debt owed by 16 countries to Sweden. Among the debtors, only North Korea has never implemented a debt repayment, it said.

The North's debt to Sweden arose after it never came through with payment for 1,000 Volvo 144 model cars and several orders with other Swedish companies in 1974. The debt, originally amounting to SEK 600 million, has swollen to SEK 2.7 billion due to the accumulated interest.

Roslund told the service that the publicly funded Swedish Export Credit Agency (EKN), a government agency serving as a credit insurer for company's trade deals, takes charges of the North's debt and reminds the North twice every year about them.

An official at the Swedish carmaker said the North's failure to honor the debts has prompted EKN to be involved in the case and Volvo has suffered no financial damage, the report said.

Volvo manufactured the four-door Volvo 144 model from 1966 to 1974 as one of an entirely new car series. A total of 1.25 million units of the model were produced and more than 1 million units were sold, marking the first time in the company's history that more than 1 million units of a car model were sold.