Despite the unwanted publicity of a criminal trial for one of their main suppliers, business is booming at Pyongyang”s ”Singapore shops,” which sell everything from Ukrainian vodka to brand-name knock-offs from China.
The stores stock many of the very things United Nations” sanctions banning trade in luxury goods are intended to block and provide a nagging reminder that not all potential trade partners are lining up behind the UN”s pronouncements or the Trump administration”s policy of maximum pressure on the North.
Especially when there”s a buck or a few million bucks to be made.
The stores are anything but secret.
They are well marked, open to walk-ins and distribute their own membership cards to reward regular customers.
Until recently, the name of their Singaporean partner, the OCN Group, was printed on the Bugsae shop”s plastic shopping bags.
And while being the focus of the court case that could land OCN”s former director in prison for a very long time, they continue to unabashedly specialise in imported products perfumes, fine jewelry, wines, clothing and cosmetics that would appear to blatantly violate UN restrictions.