Jane VaynmanNo Ipods for Kim Jong Il

There are some new US sanctions on North Korea which are intended to target the fabulous life of Dear Leader and his posse. Sales of Ipods, Segways and other fun things are now banned.

It is Washington’s first-ever attempt to use trade penalties as a way of personally aggravating a foreign leader. They target items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run the communist government.


But the list of proposed U.S. penalties, obtained by The Associated Press, aims to make Kim’s swanky life harder: No more cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles or even personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis.


Experts said the U.S. luxury sanctions would be the first ever to curtail a specific category of goods not associated with military buildups or weapons designs — and the first tailored to annoy a foreign leader. They acknowledge that enforcing the ban on black-market trading would be difficult.

“He’s got folks who can move around nuclear weapons. If he tells these guys to get him a case of Scotch, they’re going to pull it off,” said James A. Lewis, a former State Department official who worked on arms controls. “Unless it’s too large to fit into the cargo hold of a commercial aircraft, it’s going to be tough to restrain him.”

Too bad. It would be amazing photo – Kim Jong Il on a Segway scooter with little white headphones, while drinking cognac. I was about to go have some fun with photoshop, but then as you can see, someone already did.


  1. Mingi (History)

    Whoever did the photoshop job did quite well. But, I feel bad for the guy who has a strikingly similar physique as Kim Jong Il.

  2. marko beljac (History)

    I don’t think this is a good thing. sanctions in relation to proliferation should be proliferation specific otherwise it leads to the idea that non-proliferation is a cover for regime change. In the long run that will prove counter-productive, from a non-proliferation perspective. This demonstrates, in my opinion, that in relation to North Korea proliferation has not been a priority, in much the same way that terrorism was not a priority in Iraq, or elsewhere.

  3. Akash (History)

    This has to be one of the most stupid ideas I have ever come across. All these items are available in China, with which (duh!) North Korea trades easy. Oh wait, what about all the NK commissions across the globe? Duh square.

    What will they think of next, not exporting toilet paper to Iran?

  4. Mingi (History)

    The only time North Korea may have been about proliferation for the US was under the Clinton administration.

    Whereas the Clinton folk wanted to take things step by step and eventually talk about the likes of missiles and human rights, the Bushies decided to swamp North Korea with a barrage of criticisms and demands.

    Not a good way of trying to lure North Korea out of its odd corner. As much as this is a proliferation concern, I believe this issue will only be solved should the US sit down bilaterally. Or else, with the option of military action appearing rather unappealing, Washington has no other option but to sit and wait until worse news come out of Pyongyang.

    As for sanctions, I’ve yet to talk to any North-East Asian gov’t or military official who honestly believes the likes of PSI will actually work. As one official told me, “how will sanctions work, when North Korea’s at the bottom economically and have nothing to lose?”

  5. cenoxo

    The State Department may want to loosen up on a few of those items. After a case of Scotch and a Harley Davidson (or Jet Ski), regime change may no longer be an issue.