Published February 17, 2014
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's lavish spending -- including on a private movie theater for 1,000 of his closest friends -- eclipses even the legendary ways of his father, according to a U.N. report which also details the suffering of the Hermit Kingdom's people.
The 372-page report, released on Monday after a year-long investigation into the country, says Kim Jong Un’s regime tried to import luxury Mercedes-Benz vehicles, high-end musical recording equipment and dozens of pianos.
Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011, was infamous for spending lavishly while his people starved. He reportedly had 17 different palaces within the nation, including a private resort near Baekdu Mountain, a seaside home in the city of Wonsan and a massive complex northeast of Pyongyang. The elder Kim, who was obsessed with Elvis Presley and American movies, reportedly spent $1 million per year importing cognac and had dozens of luxury automobiles.
He also reportedly had a collection of 20,000 DVD films, including American favorites such as Rambo and Friday the 13th.
''Luxury good expenditure by the DPRK rose to $645.8 million in 2012,” the report said, citing a 2013 article from the British newspaper The Mirror. “Reportedly, this was a sharp increase from the average of $300 million a year under Kim Jong Il.”
The regime rakes in funds for luxury spending by engaging in legal and illegal activities, such as assisting in the illegal sale of alcohol in Islamic countries and the trafficking of ivory from Africa to China, a former North Korean official said in the report.
''They are kept [in] the personal disposal of the Supreme Leader and used to cover personal expenses of the Supreme Leader, his family and other elites surrounding him, as well as other politically sensitive expenditures,” the report said, according to Reuters.
The report also accuses North Korea of “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” and crimes against humanity which may be brought to the International Criminal Court.
“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people are currently being detained in North Korean political prison camps, the Korea Institute for National Unification says, based on satellite imagery and first-hand testimony.
“Suspects of major political wrongs may find themselves in a detention interrogation center anywhere from a few days to six months or more,'' the report said, according to Reuters.
Testimony about one detention facility revealed that it was equipped with a water tank, long needles that are driven under prisoners’ fingernails, and shackles used to hold people upside down, the report states.
The report will be debated by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 17, according to Reuters.