SEOUL, June 22 (Korea Bizwire) – North Korea has been unable to import luxury watches from Switzerland as the European country enforced tough sanctions on the reclusive country for its nuclear and long-range missile program, a U.S.-based media report said Wednesday.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), North Korea’s Swiss watch imports fell to zero in May, in sharp contrast to the monthly average of 20 watches from January through April this year.
It said such a development will seriously affect leader Kim Jong-un’s so-called “gift politics,” which has been a tool to exercise control over North Korea’s elites.
Quoting the Swiss Watch Industry Association, RFA said North Korea bought a total of 87 watches in the first four months of 2016 worth US$11,140.
RFA said the North’s halting of watch imports is a clear indication of the Swiss federal government’s stern sanctions against Pyongyang. The reclusive country has unwaveringly pursued nuclear and missile programs despite warnings from the international community.
The media forecast that the Swiss government’s sanctions will squeeze the Pyongyang regime in other fields including finance.
In early March, the U.N. Security Council adopted its toughest-ever sanctions, Resolution 2270, to punish the North’s nuclear and missile tests in January and February, respectively.
In response to the U.N.’s punitive action, the Swiss government in May placed 25 of its luxury items on the embargo list for the North. The items include caviar, wine, cigars, luxury wristwatches, ski and golf equipment and home appliances.
As a consequence, RFA said, Kim is experiencing trouble giving gifts to loyalists. The leader is known for giving luxury items to his family members, senior officials of the party and the military to secure their allegiance. Kim’s control is partly maintained by keeping the country’s ruling class on his side.