Daimler Has 'Absolutely No Idea' How North Korea Got Its Mercedes-Maybach Limos

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Daimler, maker of top-end Mercedes-Maybach automobiles, is on the hot seat after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was spotted scooting around in brand new armored limos at recent international summits.

Sales of luxury automobiles to the despotic regime are banned under a UN Security Council resolution passed in 2013, and Daimler does not count it as one of its customers. Still, the country’s leader travels in uncompromising Germanic style.

Kim is frequently seen riding in a previous-generation S-Class stretch limousine, usually flanked by a dozen panting bodyguards dressed in classic 1960s spy show garb. Those motorcades also contain a Maybach 62 — a vehicle that ceased production at the tail end of 2012.

However, it’s a sparklingly new Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard that’s raising eyebrows of late. North Korea watcher NK Pro raised the issue in February after the armored sedan was seen driving to the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee building. The Mercedes-Maybach model also ushered Kim to a Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year, and was on hand this week during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok.

Other top-end Daimler products have been photographed lurking around DPRK leadership.

When contacted by the Associated Press, Daimler claimed it was stumped as to where the vehicles originated.

“We have absolutely no idea how those vehicles were delivered to North Korea,” Daimler spokeswoman Silke Mockert wrote in response to the query. “For Daimler, the correct export of products in conformance with the law is a fundamental principle of responsible entrepreneurial activity.”

Going the S600 Guard route spells opulent accommodations for any passenger worried about nearby grenade blasts or 7.62mm (.30-calibre) rifle or machine gun fire, though former French president Charles de Gaulle aptly demonstrated that a stock Citroen DS is all you need to come away unscathed. We never learn from history.

Continuing in her defense of the automaker, Mockert said, “Our company has had no business connections with North Korea for far more than 15 years now and strictly complies with E.U. and U.S. embargoes. To prevent deliveries to North Korea and to any of its embassies worldwide, Daimler has implemented a comprehensive export control process. Sales of vehicles by third parties, especially of used vehicles, are beyond our control and responsibility.”

Indeed, if you’ve got power and money and aren’t afraid of bending some rules, possessions can just fall into your lap. A professor of Korean studies at Tufts University claims it’s not much of a mystery as to how Kim snagged his German fleet.

“I’d say a new Mercedes is a luxury goods violation by North Korea and, probably, its Chinese middlemen,” Sung-Yoon Lee told NK News.

“It’s business as usual. That is, blatant violation of UNSC sanctions not only by North Korea but also almost certainly by Mercedes, certainly by the country from which the sedan was shipped to China (lack of due diligence), and by China itself.”

[Images: Daimler]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Carrera Carrera on Apr 27, 2019

    UAE is a big clearinghouse for all kinds of stuff. The whole country is a big foreign trade zone. They used as ultimate consignee some FTZ there and from there stuff ends up in Iran, N. Korea, Sudan,etc.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on May 10, 2019

    Check the CarFax ! Really, though, all you need to do is buy one...anywhere in the world. Pay the new owner a premium. Send to non US controlled port. Done.

  • 1995 SC PA is concerning, but if it spent most of its life elsewhere and was someone's baby up there and isn't rusty it seems fairly priced.
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  • 1995 SC I never cared for the fins and over the top bodies on these, but man give me that interior all day. I love it
  • 1995 SC Modern 4 door sedans stink. The roofline on them is such that it wrecks both the back seat and trunk access in most models. Watch someone try to get their kid into a car seat in the back of a modern sedan. Then watch them try to get the stroller into the mail slot t of a trunk opening. I would happily trade the 2 MPG at highway speed that shape may be giving me for trunk and rear seat accessibility of the sedans before this stupidity took over. I ask you, back in the day when Sedans were king, would any of them with the compromises of modern sedans have sold well? So why do we expect them to sell today? Make them usable for the target audience again and just maybe people will buy them. Keep them just as they are and they'll keep buying crossovers which might be the point.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.