North Korean security persons run by a car carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un return to the North side for a lunch break after a morning session of a summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone Friday, April 27, 2018. Their discussions will be expected to focus on whether the North can be persuaded to give up its nuclear bombs. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)
Photo: AP Images

Last year, everyone got a kick out of a viral clip of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s security staff running on foot alongside his limousine. But the leader’s persistent use of armored Mercedes-Benz vehicles raised some questions, and now the automaker wishes to distance itself from the dictator.

Kim Jong Un has showed up to quite a few high-profile summit meetings with world leaders in his fancy armored Mercedes-Benz limousines, leading the Associated Press to reach out to Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, to ask what’s up.

Daimler officially claims it has no clue how Kim ended up with its cars. From the AP:

The sale of luxury goods, including limousines, is banned under U. N. sanctions intended to put pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Kim nevertheless had two limos waiting for him at Vladivostok station — a Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman Guard and a Mercedes Maybach S62. He is believed to have also used the S600 Pullman Guard for his summits with Trump in Singapore in June last year and in Hanoi in February.

“We have absolutely no idea how those vehicles were delivered to North Korea,” Daimler spokeswoman Silke Mockert said in a written response to an Associated Press report Wednesday on the limousines . “For Daimler, the correct export of products in conformance with the law is a fundamental principle of responsible entrepreneurial activity.”

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It’s never a good look to have a dictator rolling around in a Mercedes.

Jalopnik has reached out to Daimler directly to inquire what the ordering and delivery process for its armored vehicles is, and will update if we get more information. I also reached out to a sketchy email address I believe directs to the North Korean embassy in Berlin, so we’ll see if that yields any new details.

Otherwise it’s likely that North Korea got the cars somewhat second-hand through somebody in a country a little more friendly to it, like China. The only problem, for Mercedes at least, is that once the Korean dictator has the cars, it’s not going to be very easy to get them back.

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Now the company’s forever part of the meme of Kim Jong Un’s security detail running alongside one of your cars. Congrats.