The Charms of Kim Jong-Un’s Luxurious Life
As the leader of one of the most isolated and secretive nations on Earth, Kim Jong-Un is surrounded by an air of mystery. With numerous rumors and state-sponsored propaganda spread around, it can be hard to separate the truth from the fiction of Kim Jong-Un’s life.
What is known for certain is that he is a brutal leader that requires the utmost loyalty from all his people. Another well-known fact is that, while North Korea’s economy is estimated to be even smaller than that of Birmingham, Alabama, Kim lives a life of absolute luxury, sparing no expense to fulfil his every desire. Today we are going to take a closer look at the luxurious life of Kim Jong-Un, but first a little background.
- Who is Kim Jong-Un
- Where He Lives
- How He Travels
- Food and Drinks
- Day-to-Day Life
- Expensive hobbies
- Generous Gifts
- The Lesson
- Bonus for watching until the end
If you want to learn all about the man with some visuals, here’s the contents of this article summarized into a decent video:
With this out of the way, let’s dive into the article:
Who is Kim Jong-Un
Kim Jong-Un has been the Supreme Leader of North Korea since 2011 after the death of his father. He was 28 when he took over as ruler and turned 36 in 2019. He claims a number of titles, including Chairman of the Workers’ Party of North Korea and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The exact amount of his personal wealth is unknown, but he’s thought to have access to at least 5 billion dollars. Much of the money Kim uses is thought to come from illegal activity like hacking banks, cash counterfeiting, and drug and weapons sales. Before Kim took over as leader, the yearly spending on luxury goods for North Korea’s leader totaled about 300 million dollars. Now, Kim spends well over 600 million per year on luxury goods.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of his people live in poverty, struggling to meet their basic needs. This is just one reason why he is one of the most controversial leaders in the world. But where does all that money go? Let’s find out as we look at the luxurious life of Kim Jong Un, starting with where he lives.
Where He Lives
Kim has at least 17 palaces located throughout North Korea, but most of the time he stays in the Ryongsong Residence in Pyongyang, which was fully renovated fairly recently. The grounds include a running track, a large pool with a giant waterslide, horse stables and riding area, a shooting range, and a horse racing track. Kim also has his own private luxury island that his friend Dennis Rodman once described as being like Hawaii or Ibiza except Kim is the only one that lives there. But when Kim wants to venture away from home, he has a number of luxurious travel options.
How He Travels
One of the things that North Korean children are taught in school is that Kim learned how to drive when he was only three years old. As unlikely as that is, it is thought that he began collecting luxury cars at a young age. It’s now estimated that he has more than 100 luxury automobiles, with Mercedes Benz being his favorite brand.
Possibly his most expensive car is a customized Benz that is armored and fully fortified for his protection when traveling. It cost a total of 1.7 million dollars. He has a vehicle for traveling on the open seas as well. Kim’s 8 million dollar 200-foot yacht was custom designed with a Fendi interior. He has a 95-foot yacht as well and possibly others.
Kim has a private jet that he named Air Force Un. The exact details of the plane are not known, but it does have luxurious details like white leather couches and crystal ash trays. It’s thought that the jet set him back about 1.5 million dollars. He likely has several other private jets as well. He also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have five runways built beside his palaces for his convenience. In fact, he has no problem paying for all sorts of conveniences, and that extends to what he eats and drinks as well.
Food and Drinks
There’s plenty of inexpensive alcohol available locally, but Kim prefers to import high-end liquors, whisky and cognac in particular. One of his favorites, Hennessy, costs him over 2,000 dollars a bottle to import. Overall, he ends up spending about 8 million dollars per year on liquor imports alone.
He has similar habits when it comes to food. While many in his country are nearly starving, he regularly has dishes imported in from around the world. A typical delivery order for him might consist of Kobe beef from Japan, Iranian caviar, or Chinese melon. Whatever he has a taste for, he gets no matter what the cost. The estimated cost yearly is in the millions. This is just a glimpse into the day-to-day luxuries that Kim enjoys, and here’s some more examples.
It’s against the law to import DVDs to North Korea, but guess who has an insane collection of over 20,000 imported DVDs? Kim Jong-Un of course. His favorite movies come from America, and he is also very fond of Godzilla films from Japan. He usually watches these movies in his 1,000 seat movie theatre that he had built into his palace at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Whenever Kim is seen in public, without fail a high-end watch can be spotted on his wrist. His luxury watch collection is reportedly valued at more than 8 million dollars. Even Kim’s cigarettes are fancy since he typically smokes Yves Saint Laurent French designer cigarettes at 44 dollars per pack—an extravagant price for cigarettes. To put that in a little perspective, the average monthly income for North Koreans is only 150 US dollars. Now let’s take a look at Kim’s expensive hobbies.
Under the guise of boosting North Korea’s tourism numbers, Kim used state money to build himself a 35 million ski resort so that he could enjoy one of his favorite pastimes. He and other elites go there to enjoy the spa, restaurant, wood cabin rooms, and 70 miles of ski slopes. One of Kim’s other favorite hobbies is playing golf, and he has spent around 3 million each for multiple golf courses to be created, and it costs about 500,000 each year per golf course for maintenance costs. Another one of his hobbies is collecting thoroughbred horses.
It has been reported that about 20% of the state’s total budget goes toward taking care of the horses and their facilities. He also loves amusement parks and spent 100 million for the Pyongyang amusement park to be built only to call it pathetic once it was completed. Surprisingly enough, Kim does make a generous gesture to those around him from time to time, but we’re not sure if it still counts as generosity if you’re using the state’s money.
No, Kim doesn’t keep all the wealth to himself. His inner circle and his top officers also receive certain benefits. Kim likes to give his wife expensive gifts like 1500-dollar Christian Dior bags. In 2010 he gave high-end Mercedes Benz models to 160 of his highest-ranking officials. This one generous gesture alone is estimated to have cost around 12 million dollars. These expenses that we’ve looked at today are just the ones that are known. It’s possibly that there could be even more incredible luxuries enjoyed by Kim on the state’s dime.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Kim, it may be that too much wealth and power is not always a good thing. Don’t let your pursuit of wealth and your enjoyment of luxury keep you from taking care of your other responsibilities. Although some would argue that there’s never such a thing as too much luxury, it’s smart to set some limits for yourself and invest your money wisely so that you can continue enjoying the finer things in life for years to come.
If you’re interested in taking an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes story of how Kim Jong-Un rose to power, you should definitely check out The Great Successor, a book by Anna Fifield.
Anna is one of the best connected journalists when it comes to North Korean politics, and she offers an unprecedented look behind the veil into the life of Kim Jong-Un. You can hear this fascinating book on Audible while also saving 24 dollars if you go to alux.com/freebook and sign up so that you can get the audiobook version for free thanks to our partnership with Audible.
Now that we all have a better understanding how Kim is living his life, we have a question for you:
Should a leader of a country feel guilty about living in luxury when most of their people are poor and suffering? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Here’s a bonus fact for sticking with us until the end:
Kim Jong-Un married Ri Sol-ju in 2012, a marriage that had been arranged by his father. The two have one confirmed daughter, but whenever she disappears for several months at a time, it’s suspected that she is having another child. So it’s possible that they have multiple children, but very few people outside of his inner circle know for sure.