Rich North Koreans Seem Unaffected by Sanctions

They have no trouble scoring luxe goods
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2013 3:41 PM CDT
TV sets are displayed at a South Korean store.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

(Newser) – Despite the supposedly tough sanctions on North Korea, the country's elite are having no difficulty snagging fancy new TVs, cameras, and similar luxury items. The wealthy can get around the sanctions by shopping in Beijing; North Koreans have been spotted checking in items including refrigerators and washing machines at the airport there, Reuters reports. Or, if that's too much trouble, items can be shipped to North Korea, says the owner of one kitchen appliance store in Beijing. "It's no problem at all."

The problem is that sanctions leave the definition of "luxury goods" open to interpretation. The latest sanctions prohibit luxury items such as yachts, race cars, and jewelry from being imported, but the resolution does not specifically prohibit other items. China, for one, hasn't made its definition of luxury goods public. "It's very difficult to enforce the sanction when there's no agreement on products you're willing to restrict," says one former UN monitor. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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