Send to

Kim Jong-un’s car escorted by Hyundai van in Russia

NK's public disclosure of Hyundai logo 'unusual': S. Korean Unification Ministry

Sept. 21, 2023 - 14:43 By Ji Da-gyum
An image from a documentary on Kim Jong-un's recent visit to the Russian Far East shows a convoy of vehicles escorting Kim's armored Mercedes-Benz through the streets of Vladivostok. Among the vehicles, a van bearing the Hyundai emblem can be seen, along with others resembling it. The documentary was broadcast Wednesday by the North Korean state-run Korean Central Television. (Yonhap)

North Korean state-run media on Wednesday broadcast a documentary that featured North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's motorcade in Russia, notably escorted by vans manufactured by South Korea's auto giant, Hyundai Motor.

The state-controlled Korean Central Television, which primarily targets the North's domestic audience, unveiled an hour-and-a-half-long documentary titled "A Historical Moment: Setting a New Milestone in North Korea-Russia Relations," providing a comprehensive account of Kim's 10-day overseas journey to Russia.

Kim embarked on a train journey from Pyongyang to the Russian Far East on September 10 to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and tour cities in the region. Kim returned to Pyongyang on Tuesday night.

The documentary featured Kim's armored Mercedes-Benz vehicle decorated with the national flag of North Korea and the flag of the State Affairs Commission, accompanied by a fleet of black vans.

Of particular note, one of these vans prominently displayed Hyundai Motor's distinctive "H" emblem. The van appears to be the carmaker's Staria model. Subsequent vans in the convoy also appeared to display the logo.

The documentary consistently displayed the van bearing the Hyundai emblem from the moment Kim arrived in the far eastern city of Vladivostok on September 16, and this continued until he departed from the city the following day. The documentary went so far as to include multiple close-up shots of the van featuring the Hyundai logo.

The convoy was filmed as it escorted Kim during his journey to watch a performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's ballet "Sleeping Beauty" at the Primorsky stage of the Mariinsky Theater on Saturday night.

The van bearing the Hyundai logo remained present as Kim made his way to the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island off Vladivostok on Sunday morning, and later to the Primorsky Aquarium. After visiting the Arnika Bio-Feed Mill, the last stop in the Russian Far East, Kim's car was observed heading to the train station, still guarded by the Hyundai van.

South Korea's Unification Ministry found North Korea's decision to openly display the Hyundai logo in its unedited form unusual, particularly given the apparent editing of the video.

This stands in contrast to past instances, such as the broadcast of the 2022 Qatar World Cup matches, when North Korea's KCTV obscured Hyundai car advertisements in the stadium to the point of them being unrecognizable.

"The public display of the South Korean trademark in such a manner is not commonly observed in the documentary," said a senior official at the Unification Ministry who requested to remain anonymous during a closed-door briefing Thursday.

The official, however, said that the ministry is unable to immediately confirm North Korea's intention behind broadcasting the Hyundai logo, nor was it able to determine whether the vans were provided by Russia or brought in from North Korea.