Kim Jong Un’s ‘slush fund’ running dry after so many nuclear missile tests: report
Two Chinese sources with connections to North Korean government officials told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday that Kim, who is now in his seventh year of ruling the country, is draining the inheritance he received when coming into power, which is used to help run the country.
“Due to Kim Jong Un’s extravagant spending, the slush fund from his father, Kim Jong Il, is running out,” one of the sources told the publication.
“It won’t be easy to control North Korea’s high-level executives, who are [cunning] like racoons.”
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The sources said the funds are nearly exhausted because of all the money put towards missile and nuclear weapon tests as well as other luxurious projects, like his Masikryong Ski Resort.
Over the past few months, North Korea has launched numerous missile tests, with the most recent one having a range of around 13,000 kilometres — putting it within range of Washington, D.C.
The source said a majority of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile tests have taken place during Kim’s leadership.
South Korean government analysis has put North Korea’s nuclear spending at US$1.1 billion to US$3.2 billion overall, Reuters reported last year (although experts say it’s impossible to make an accurate calculation given the secrecy surrounding the program).
“We can speculate that he spent a lot of money from the number of missile [and nuclear weapons] tests he carried out,” the source told Radio Free Asia.
“Most of the funding for nuclear weapon and missile development is coming from Kim Jong Un’s slush fund.”
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Winter Olympic strategy?
With funds running low, another source told the media outlet that North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is a way to “improve relations” and “solicit charity.”
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“North Korea’s warm gestures toward South Korea have underlying intentions: to use the Pyongchang Winter Olympics that will be held there from Feb. 9 as a breakthrough for their financial difficulties,” the source said.
Sanctions and food shortages
The United Nations has slapped several sanctions on the Hermit Kingdom since the country conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. This has made it difficult for the country to earn foreign cash.
Tina Park, founder of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said a lot of North Korea’s economic problems are the government’s fault. “North Korea is very poor, from objective standards. But one-quarter of their GDP goes straight to the military,” she said.
She said the nation’s “luxury spending” has actually gone up in the past few years, which is “mind boggling if you look at how poor the entire population is,” Parker added.
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“And yet they’re building ski resorts and spending money on very luxurious goods,” she said.
North Korea has experienced famines in its history, and the CIA believes that it is unable to produce enough food domestically to feed its people.
In November, a North Korean soldier who defected to South Korea had an enormous parasitic worm in his stomach. Doctors who removed the 27 centimetre worm said it points to the hygiene and food problem for many North Koreans.
“Although we do not have solid figures showing health conditions of North Korea, medical experts assume that parasite infection problems and serious health issues have been prevalent in the country,” Choi Min-Ho, a professor at Seoul National University College of Medicine, told the Associated Press.
The soldier’s condition was “not surprising at all considering the north’s hygiene and parasite problems,” he added.
— With files from Global News’ Leslie Young
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