Kim Jong-un Mercedes-Benz
In 2014, two suspected armoured Mercedes used by Kim Jong-un were sighted in the country's military paradeKCNA via Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is believed to have bought an armoured Mercedes for his use in the isolated nation. The reclusive leader may have imported the customised vehicle by first shipping it to China, successfully overcoming sanctions on the dictatorial regime.

The South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, citing an unnamed source, said the North Korean leader received the Mercedes-Benz in October 2015. The armoured vehicle was heavily customised, the source added, to meet the demands of Kim, who is known for his penchant for luxury goods.

The armoured car is said to be capable of withstanding mortar rounds. It can also travel at top speeds even with a flat tyre. The car was purchased through a proxy trading firm based in China in order to skirt a ban imposed by the UN. The luxury vehicle was later shipped to Pyongyang as a general product.

In July 2014, two similar armoured Mercedes-Benz limousines were spotted in North Korea's military parade. The suspected Mercedes S600 armoured limos sailed through the extravagant parade surrounded by marching troops. Such vehicles could cost anywhere between £350,000 ($522,354; €493,194) and £1.2m depending on the armouring and customisation.

UN regulations bar sales of luxury goods such as cars, jewels and yachts to the impoverished North because of its unauthorised nuclear programme. Still Pyongyang has repeatedly managed to smuggle some expensive products for its leaders.