Infamous for his extravagant taste and lavish lifestyle, Kim Jong-un has reportedly spent over $700 million in just one year while the rest of the Hermit Kingdom struggled to make ends meet. Former US basketball star, Dennis Rodman, described the life of Kim Jong-un as a “seven-star” party with a constant slur of cocktails, jet skis and luxury yachts at the dictator’s own private island.
While many of us know the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, as a quiet man who is hell-bent on destroying the world and repressing his people, the dictator gives us a precious few glimpses into his life of glamour.
Most often seen wearing a black suit coat and a grim expression smeared across his face, Kim’s exploits out of the office make him seem much more exhilarating than the photos would suggest. From partying with fading celebrities like Dennis Rodman on his private island, to spending over $30 million a year on alcohol, the life of Mr. Kim Jong-un is much more lavish than many would believe. In fact – Kim Jong-un is worth a not-so-modest $5 billion. It’s next to impossible to compare his impressive net worth to the measly $1,500/year your average North Korean makes. What does compare to this amount, though, is the cost of the bag Kim’s wife wears to their private racetrack.
Before diving in too deep into the way Kim Jong-un spends his money, let’s first take a look at the way the rest of the country gets by.
Similar to many other countries, North Korea has a class structure, with the higher class having access to a wide range of resources ranging from basic amenities such as running water, to luxury goods and cars. The so-called middle class in North Korea has very little compared to middle class citizens from other, more developed nations. The biggest factor that separates North Korea from everyone else is the sheer size of their impoverished and poor population.
A large portion of the population has absolutely no access to basic amenities, and many would argue North Korea to be among the worst residential places on earth. That being said, many people are still ignorant to its current situation, mainly due to the intense efforts made by Kim Jong-un and his cronies to stifle the transportation of information between the borders of this disparaged country.
In October of 2013, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that North Korea was one of 34 nations that required outside aid to feed its citizens. Just to paint a more vivid picture – the population of North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, is roughly 2.8 million. A city of that size would be the fourth largest city in the United States. This number is also the estimated amount of North Korean citizens in need of foreign aid to simply survive. To make this situation even worse, about a third of the malnourished population are children.
With many not having electricity or access to medication, an obvious question arises – why does Kim Jong-un (worth $5 billion) not step in and help out his ailing countrymen?
The most powerful thing that resides in North Korea’s 46,000 square miles is fear. Kim has the whole population of North Korea convinced that he is some kind of demigod; capable of parting the seas and bringing back the dead.
The impoverished population that struggles to secure their next meal is fed constant images of their short and plump leader riding around in his bulletproof train and patrolling the deck of his 95-foot yacht.
In addition to the mind games that he plays with his people, Kim Jong-un has to prove that he is a capable leader and is able to carry on the traditions that his revered father and grandfather established. At just 30-years-old, Kim is a mere child compared to his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who ruled for 46 years and was beloved by the people. His father was at the helm for 17 years and both had been through hardship and struggles, something that the pampered Kim Jong-un knows nothing about.
Having never survived a power struggle or dealt with the west, he knows that he has to earn the same respect and honor that his predecessors received. Many foreign leaders view him as an immature child who is not ready to take the reigns of North Korea. Underprepared and green, Kim Jong-un has taken many measures to show his people that he is not a spoiled brat and is more than ready to take on the world.
That being said, what does an immature dictator who is trying to prove his valor spend his billions on?
The former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, has been one of the rare few to spend some time with Kim Jong-un and live to tell the tale to the outside world. Rodman said that anything you could want, Kim Jong-un had the best of. Whether it is his compound, his horse or his watch, the little Korean tyrant has draped himself and his family in everything that is luxurious. In fact, Kim Jong-un likes his extravagance so much that the United Nations tried to create sanctions against the selling of luxury goods to North Korea, a measure that has failed miserably.
Since the death of his father, the new regime under Kim Jong-un has spent an average of $645 million per year on the importing of luxury goods. The most prominent among the imported items are high-end watches and liquor, which he uses to bribe government officials and keep their loyalty.
The amount of liquor that he has imported into North Korea is quite mental. Kim Jong-un has spent $33.1 million on imported liquor in just one year (should be enough to get a few North Koreans really drunk).
To keep up the family image, Kim Jong-un spends millions on the imports of saunas, racing horses and other electronic goods. His wife, Ri Sol-ju, has isolated herself from the North Korean public after she was often spotted wearing a variety of Dior handbags that were each worth more than the yearly salary of your average citizen.
Reading the above might give you an impression that Kim blows most of his money on alcohol and gold, but that’s far from the truth. Although, the leader spends a significant amount on booze, the amount he spends on his own property is much more impressive.
Among his arsenal of goods you can spot a $7 million private yacht and a private island with a water slide compound. His Princess 95MY yacht is manufactured by the LVMH group – which is known for it’s boastful elegance and luxury and owns brands such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. The leader famously took a 10-day trip in his new yacht around the coast of North Korea, a trip that was heavily documented by every news outlet in the country. Although the whereabouts of his private island are unknown, Dennis Rodman did visit the island paradise and said that happy North Koreans who were sipping margaritas out of bendy straws surrounded him daily. In addition to his fascination with beaches and tropical living, Kim Jong-un has a need for speed.
Some of his favorite goods to collect are things that go really fast. Whether it is a water scooter or some race car, this North Korean leader spends millions of his fortune each year on vehicles. Furthermore, the young ruler is planning on building a private ski resort so he can show off his skills on the slopes. In addition to these technologically impressive vehicles, Kim Jong-un loves his movies. Quite ironic considering that the importation of films is illegal in North Korea and many people have never seen a single movie. Some of dear leader’s favorites (out of the 20,000 films he owns) are Godzilla and Rambo, not surprising.
While Kim Jong-un may have spent 20% of the nation’s budget on keeping his racehorses in tip-top shape and his family members steamy in the sauna, he gives back to his people. Well, his employees at least. In addition to winning the favor of his workers with watches and expensive liquors, he gave away 160 Mercedes-Benz sedans in 2010 to his high-ranking officials.