Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin
Kim and Putin met last year in Russia. REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin has gifted a limousine to his friend and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The Russian-made car was delivered to North Korea on Sunday by a Russian delegation. Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, thanked Putin on her brother's behalf in a statement.

"The gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders of the DPRK (North Korea) and Russia," KCNA quoted her as saying.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also confirmed the development, stating that the decision was taken after Kim heaped praise on Putin's own Aurus Senat Limousine during his visit to Russia last year.

"When the head of the DPRK [North Korea] was at the Vostochny cosmodrome, he looked at this car, Putin showed it to him personally, and like many people, Kim liked this car," he said in a statement.

"North Korea is our neighbour, our close neighbour, and we intend, and will continue, to develop our relations with all neighbours, including North Korea," he added.

Since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, Moscow and Pyongyang have become closer. The North Korean leader even paid a visit to Russia last year. Kim has been a strong supporter of Russia's war in Ukraine. Last year, he wrote a letter to Putin and said he wished victory for Putin against the "imperialists' anti-Russia scheme".

North Korea recently opened its borders to international tourists since closing them due to COVID-19 in May 2020, and Russian tourists likely became the first to visit North Korea on February 9 this year.

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 expensive products for its leaders.

In 2015, several media reports claimed that the North Korean leader bought an armoured Mercedes. The armoured vehicle was heavily customised. Kim is known for his penchant for luxury goods, according to the South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo.

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 £1.2 million, depending on the armouring and customisation.