North Koreans starve to death; Kim Jong-Il imports McDonald’s burgers

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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As the North Korean people die of hunger, the country’s top officials have doubled imports of Chinese luxury goods since last year, reports the Straits Times.

According to Beijing customs, North Korean officials imported about $46 million worth of food and $10 million in foreign cigarettes and liquor. That’s a 117-percent increase since just last year. The spending includes $7.5 million on Marlboros and $2.4 million on Japanese beer and Hennessy whiskey. (Kim Jong-Il’s greatest ‘accomplishments’ [SLIDESHOW])

Political elites in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital city, also have McDonald’s hamburgers delivered to their homes from China, and imports of luxury items from Gucci, Armani and Rolex have also increased.

The Straits Times writes that despite years of food shortages in North Korea, dictator Kim Jong-Il has a history of showering his aides with luxury gifts s a way to earn or hold on to loyalty. Meanwhile, North Korea relies on other nations to help feed its population of about 24 million people.

The United Nations has banned North Korea from trading weapons or luxury items a number of times, in response to the country’s defiance of 2006 and 2009 UN orders to stop testing nuclear weapons. The sanctions have driven North Korea further into isolation, and have been largely ignored.