Kim Jong-un Inherits Father's Taste for Bling

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is spending top dollar on luxury products from overseas. He is apparently building a private ski resort and importing equipment to build his own sauna.

The younger Kim's propensity for luxury goods seems to exceed even his late father Kim Jong-il's penchant for the good life, which involved expensive whiskey and foreign cars bought as gifts for loyal officials.

According to diplomatic sources, the North recently imported sauna equipment from Finland and Germany. "Kim Jong-un likes to drink and party all night like his father and ordered the equipment to help him beat hangovers and fatigue," a source said. "Imports of wine and other spirits have increased since Kim Jong-il was in power."

North Korea also imported equipment to produce artificial snow and ski lifts. Kim Jong-un is building a private ski resort near Wonsan, Kangwon Province, the source added. He also imported ski equipment.

The young leader is also said to be negotiating the purchase of two luxury yachts made in the U.K. through a North Korean trading company operating in China. "The North requested a discount on the yachts, which cost around US$10 million each," the source said.

The younger Kim is also fond of doling out gifts. The newly created Moranbong troupe, who surprised the world with their revealing outfits and donning of Disney-character costumes last month, were given Yamaha electronic cellos and violins. The North also imported scores of Chinese Shih Tzu dogs. "Kim Jong-il used to spend hundreds of millions of won a year on his pet dog and Kim Jong-un is doing the same," the source said.

Kim Jong-un was spotted sporting a luxury Swiss watch believed to be a Patek Philippe at a ceremony in October of 2010 celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Workers Party. "The watch looks custom-made and costs around W100 million (US$1=W1,131)," the source said.

North Korea also bought luxury baby products worth 150,000 euros, apparently for Kim Jong-un's child. Among the imports was a breast pump from Swiss company Medela, considered the best in the world and priced at W3 million in South Korea.

They also included baby toothbrushes, toys, a cradle and a baby bathtub as well as a maternity cushion, according to sources.

"Ordinary North Koreans are suffering from droughts and floods, but Kim Jong-un is continuing to live the good life without even thinking about visiting the affected regions," said Koh Young-hwan, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 22, 2012 12:24 KST