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North Korea to Confiscate Japanese Automobiles
North Korea bans the use of Japanese cars and orders their confiscation.

Kim Jong-ilJapanese cars have been banned from the streets of North Korea and are subject to confiscation following an order issued by the country's leader Kim Jong-il. The ban is significant as a large percentage of North Korea's automobiles are imported from Japan. In general, only high-ranking government officials drive Mercedes-Benz sedans while lower-level officials drive Japanese cars.

"After he paid tribute to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace on January 1, he saw a Japanese car that wasn't working blocking the road and gave a National Defense Committee edict to seize Japanese cars," Yonhap News Agency reported, citing an anonymous source.

The ban does not apply to a favored class of individuals, including actors and athletes, who will be allowed to continue use of their Japanese vehicles. Yonhap sources speculate that Japan's imposition of trade sanctions after North Korea's October nuclear test was the true motivation for the ban.

Source: Kim Jong-il orders Japanese cars confiscated (Yonhap News Agency (South Korea), 2/19/2007)

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