Limo Gifted From Putin Is Now Carting Kim Around North Korea

The armored limo was gifted to Kim as huge amounts of badly needed weaponry was transferred from North Korea to Russia for its Ukraine war.

byOliver Parken|
Kim Jong Un takes his new Russian limo out for a spin
KCNA screen cap


North Korea's Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, made his first public outing with the Russian-made Aurus limousine gifted to him by President Vladimir recently, following the delivery of the vehicle to Pyongyang back in February.

The armored limo was used by Kim on March 15-16 for his personal transportation, accompanied by a motorcade of blacked-out vehicles, which included Lexus and Toyota SUVs. While the exact Aurus variant that was gifted to Kim by Putin was unclear from reporting last month, video of the limo reveals that it is an Aurus Senat Limousine model, as we suggested at the time. Headquartered in Moscow, Aurus has supplied Putin with armored limousines since 2018. In the past, Kim has used armored Mercedes S-class Pullman Guard limousines, although he is also now using Maybach and Mercedes Maybach limos

Footage originally released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and subsequently shared more widely, shows the Aurus being used on March 16.

In it, we see the limo driving along a closed-off highway, and atop a bridge, en route to an event at which Kim made a public appearance.

Kim's Aurus Senat Limosine vehicle seen with accompanying motorcade on March 16. KCNA

It is unclear precisely what this event was, although the visuals show large crowds gathered in anticipation of the North Korean dictator’s arrival. 

Crowds gather in anticipation of Kim's arrival at the unspecified event. KCNA

Alongside visuals of Kim exiting the vehicle, and greeting various military figures, we also see his daughter, Ju Ae, who accompanied him to the event, in the footage.


On March 15, Ju Ae also accompanied her father as the two overlooked paratrooper drills, aimed at showing North Korea's ability to occupy an "enemy region at a stroke," North Korean state media proclaimed.

Kim and Ju Ae pictured on March 15 watching paratrooper drills. Yonhap

It was on March 15 that Kim used the limo for the first time for transportation to an "open event," presumably in order to watch the paratrooper drills, Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the WPK Central Committee and sister of the North Korean premier, said in an official statement, KNCA Watch reports.

"The special function of the private car is perfect and can be thoroughly trusted," she said. "Kim Jong Un's using [sic] of the private car sent by the president of the Russian Federation as a gift is a clear proof of [North Korea]-Russia friendship, which is developing in a comprehensive way on a new high stage."

Of course, Kim's love of luxury vehicles is well established. High-end armored cars and limousines have been a staple of his collection, as they were for his father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The North Korean leader's interest in all things transportation, and especially presidential limousines, has often been used by state leaders to make a connection outside of policy issues with him in the past. In 2018, for example, Trump gave Kim a tour of "the Beast"  — the Presidential Limousines operated by the Secret Service — during a meeting between the two leaders in Singapore.

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Putin's gift of the limo — which violates U.N. and European Union sanctions in place banning their export to the country in light of its nuclear weapons program, ballistic missile developments, and human rights record, among other things — in February was in thanks for providing scores of weapons to Russia for its fight in Ukraine. It was no coincidence that Putin gave Kim a ride in his own armored Aurus limo, and subsequently decided to gift him one, as the leaders were engaged in high-level arms supply discussions in September of last year. Russia badly needed throngs of artillery shells and other basic materiel that North Korea was awash in. Exactly what Kim is getting in return, beyond direct payment, remains unclear, but there are certainly some indications as to what the deal may have entailed. You can read more about that, and the growing military partnership between Russia and North Korea, in our past reporting

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Given this growing connection between the countries — with their relationship becoming evermore critical for both — it is interesting that Kim chose to use the limo for the first time while coinciding with Russia's 2024 Presidential "election," which ran from March 15-17. The outcome, which was never in doubt, saw Putin's premiership extended for another six years to 2030, winning 87.29 percent of the vote but without true credible opposition.

"I extend my heartfelt congratulations and warm comradely greetings to you on the happy news that you have been reelected as president of the Russian Federation," Kim said in an official statement regarding Putin's re-election, KNCA Watch reports. "Your reelection to the heavy responsibility of the head of state is the Russian people's valuable estimate of the outstanding leadership and tenacious executive ability you displayed in state activities with a high prestige as the leader of the nation, and an expression of their unshakable support and trust in you."

With that said, it will be interesting to see when and where Kim's new ride pops up next. 

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