Kim Jong Un not thrilled with the Russian luxury car given to him by Vladimir Putin

Kim Jong Un received an Aurus as a gift from Vladimir Putin. Passionate about luxury cars, did the North Korean leader really appreciate this present?

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un like each other. During the North Korean dictator's last trip to Russia, his Russian counterpart wanted to please him by giving him a gift. Knowing the North Korean leader's passion for luxury cars, especially limousines, the Russian president gave him an Aurus.

This young Russian brand produces luxurious and powerful limousines. It was created at the request of Putin, who made it the official brand of the Kremlin. In 2019, Aurus presented its models for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show. The Senat is inspired by British and German luxury car manufacturers. Its grille is reminiscent of a Rolls-Royce, its size reminiscent of a Mercedes S-Class.

The Russian brand Aurus presents its luxury, armored and hybrid limousine, the Senat, in Geneva.
The Russian brand Aurus presents its luxury, armored and hybrid limousine, the Senat, in Geneva. © P. DUCAMP – BFMTV

The Senat is a 3.1 ton armored car. It is also a hybrid model equipped with a V8 engine of almost 600 horsepower, associated with a small electric motor. In 2021, Aurus planned to export them worldwide with an aggressive price of 130,000 euros. The Russian brand planned to sell 500 per year.

This ambition was compromised after the invasion of Ukraine which led to trade sanctions for Russia. To empty unsold stocks, Vladimir Putin may have decided to offer one to Kim Jong Un for his personal use.

Washington's mockery

This present was the subject of comments in Seoul and Washington. The South Korean Ministry of Unification believes that it constitutes a violation of the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations in 2017, also signed by Russia, which target any import of vehicles into North Korea.

Russian presidential election: tailor-made for Putin
Russian presidential election: tailor-made for Putin

For Washington this is not the problem. A spokesperson for American diplomacy instead played caustic humor.

“I hope Kim has a good extended manufacturer's warranty,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, adding that he didn't “even know Russian luxury cars existed.”

A Mercedes on a special train

But perhaps the worst reaction was that of the North Korean president himself, who made no comment, leaving his sister to make an official statement. Indeed, his garage is filled with the most expensive and luxurious cars in the world, which he brings from the Middle East via China. His favorite model remains the Mercedes Maybach 62 which follows him wherever he goes.

Moreover, during his visit to Russia, Putin went to pick up the North Korean leader at the airport and offered to travel with him in his Aurus Senat president. Kim Jun Un declined. He preferred to follow him in his Maybach 62, which he brought by a special train from North Korea.

Another important detail, the train also contained South Korean Hyundai Staria minivans intended for its escort. This presence was a headache for North Korean television which broadcast the images of this meeting. In the end, the North Korean population never knew anything about the presence of these cars built by the enemy. In the images broadcast, the Hyundai logos were blurred and the people were deceived.

Pascal SamamaPascal Samama

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