Even after 43 years, Sweden is hoping that North Korea would pay up for buying 1,000 Volvo cars. A Swedish government agency reminds the impoverished Kim Jong-un regime at least two times a year about the $330m (£250m) debt.

North Korea ordered the Volvo 144 model cars and other mechanical equipment from Swedish companies in 1974.

"Volvo vehicles are no longer easily seen on the streets of Pyongyang, but the unusual Volvo 144 model is still on the country roads and is often used as a taxi," Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman, Katarina Roslund told the Voice of America's Korean arm.

North Korea is among 16 nations which owe money to Sweden but the only country to have never implemented a credible plan for repayment. The original debt was roughly $72m but rose to $330m due to accumulated interest, making North Korea Sweden's biggest debtor.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1973 and the following year North Korea placed the order for the Volvo cars. But even after the cars were delivered, no payment was forthcoming from Pyongyang. The Volvo manufacturers did not suffer any financial damage because of non-payment as the trade fell under credit insurance and eventually, the state-run National Export Credits Guarantee Board (EKN) took over the issue.

Sweden is among a handful of Western nations that maintain low-key diplomatic relations with North Korea and the Scandinavian country also has a diplomatic mission in Pyongyang.