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This is how North Korea stole 1,000 Volvo cars - voila! vehicle


Almost 50 years have passed since then, and this story is still unbelievable: this is how the North Korean government ordered 1,000 Volvo 144s, used them for decades and never paid for them

The rather empty roads of the North Korean capital have always contained mostly Russian-made vehicles.

But Western visitors were repeatedly surprised to see quite a few Western cars in them, all of one model: the Volvo 144. They did not know that this was the result of the biggest car robbery in history.

North Korea has been operating for years an array of criminal activities of drug distribution, prostitution, money counterfeiting, and in recent years, in the spirit of the times, Bitcoin robbery and other crypto crimes.

So relative to other government activities in Pyongyang stealing 1,000 cars doesn't seem like the worst thing.

But this is a case that will be 50 years old next year, it is still not closed, and testifies above all to the shamelessness of the North Korean establishment, which is not embarrassed by the fact that evidence of such theft is circulating publicly in its country.

Volvo 144 photographed in Pyongyang from a tweet on Twitter (photo: documentation on social networks according to Section 27 A of the Copyright Law, twitter)

Sweden was one of the only Western countries that maintained contact with the communist government, and even in the Korean War they provided it with a field hospital, while it was fighting the Western forces led by the US.

In the mid-1970s, during a period of rebuilding the local economy, the Swedes were happy to mark North Korea as a market for their industrial products. North Korea then placed a large order that included mining equipment as well as 1,000 manual Volvo 144 models, which were officially intended to be used as taxis in the nation's capital.

The cars arrived in the North in 1974, but what did not come back was the payment: an original sum of $70 million For the entire transaction, it has since swelled to a debt worth 332 million dollars, which has never been paid, even though the Swedes still make sure to remind the North Koreans about it twice a year.

Until the first decade of the 21st century, when these cars were already in the territory of the Five Club, they were still a common sight in Pyongyang, although in recent years time seems to be taking its toll and they are slowly disappearing from the roads, after traveling more than half a million kilometers each.

Volvo itself was not financially harmed by the fraud: the deal was insured by the Swedish Foreign Trade Agency, so the manufacturer received its money, and the Swedish people were reluctantly forced to finance a shipment of luxury vehicles to the North Koreans.

  • vehicle

  • collectibles


  • Volvo

  • North Korea

Source: walla

All tech articles on 2023-02-10

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