North Korea’s Kim Jong Un disappears and then appears. Now, the burly despot is out of sight again, and that begs the question: who runs the store, who keeps him on binge and fancy wheels?
Her little sister has assumed her role as saber-rattler, even threatening a nuclear attack on the United States. But those caught up in the palace intrigue really want to know if she’s the one who oversees the money machine that keeps the machine running, too.
That would be the obscure and notorious Office 39 in Pyongyang, the headquarters of a supposedly illicit global smuggling ring designed to generate millions in foreign currency that fattens the chests of Kim and his family.
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Without it, Pyongyang’s elite, hampered by UN and US sanctions that prevent them from doing over-the-board business with the world, would have to do without any luxury, not to mention nuclear weapons.
“Where do you think Kim gets her Cognac, Mercedes and Rolex watches?” David Maxwell, a retired colonel in the US Army Special Forces and North Korea expert, asked the Post. “All the money to buy those things comes from Office 39.”
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Drug manufacturing and trafficking, counterfeiting, gold smuggling, arms trafficking, and slave labor are just a few of the ultra-illegal activities that Office 39 has sponsored since Kim’s late father, Kim Jong-Il, launched it in 1974.
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