1,000 bottles of Scotch stolen from N. Korean diplomat

A North Korean diplomat in Pakistan is suspected of being part of an illegal bootlegging operation after he reported an enormous quantity of alcohol was stolen from his residence during a burglary – including over 1,000 bottles of Scotch.

The Islamabad house of Hyon Ki-yong was reportedly broken into in early October, the burglars making off with “thousands” of bottles of whisky, beer and wine.

As reported by the BBC, Ki-yong in his complaint to the police also said that two diamonds and thousands of US dollars in cash were taken from his home.

In total, Reuters reported that some 1,000 bottles of Johnnie Walker Black, 200 cases of wine, 60 cartons of beer and dozens of bottles of Tequila were pilfered from the diplomat’s residence; worth in the region of US$150,000 (£115,000).

Three policemen were arrested and charged with robbery but have since been released on bail.

Inspector Asjad Mehmood at the police station in Koshar told the broadcaster that the three officers had entered the house “illegally” and after finding the alcohol had hidden it and tried to keep it for themselves rather than informing their superiors.

Apparently there are reports in other papers that the ‘break-in’ was a police operation from the start, presumably connected with suspicions Ki-yong was involved with selling alcohol on the black market.

As a Muslim country alcohol is prohibited to the majority of the population in Pakistan with just a few breweries producing beer for the non-Muslim population and foreign diplomats being allowed a quota as well.

The quarterly allowance however is much, much smaller than that stolen from Ki-yong’s home: 120 litres of spirits, 18 litres of wine and 240 litres of beer – and it must be kept in the embassy compound not a private residence.

With the ban on alcohol has come a thriving black market, especially for Scotch and other spirits, and North Korean diplomats are known to have form in supplying contraband goods in various countries around the world.

In recent years envoys from the ‘Hermit Kingdom’ have been implicated in smuggling over a million dollars worth of gold in Bangladesh and ivory in Africa.

Nor is this the first time the country’s diplomats are suspected of running an alcohol racket in Pakistan as complaints were put forward by Pakistani authorities back in 2015. With the rise of extremely militant Islamists in parts of the country, however, the channels for illicit booze getting into the country have withered, only fuelling the demand and prices on the black market.

The illegal sale of gold and ivory is thought to have been part of a drive to raise money to send back to Pyonyang as international sanctions mean it is hard for the autocratic little state to trade with anyone else.

If Ki-yong has been involved in bootlegging, whether it is also for this purpose or personal gain is not known.

3 Responses to “1,000 bottles of Scotch stolen from N. Korean diplomat”

  1. Eduard LIterate says:

    North Korean consulates and embassies are required to support themselves – they do not get funding from the PRK. Most, if not all, are involved in grey market businesses.

  2. Charles says:

    Looks like he is going to be target practice for Kim-Jong Un’s artillery if he goes back!

  3. Klark Kent says:

    quotas, restrictions, socio-economic inequality and inefficient government systems will always lead to a black/gray market, whether it be a developed or developing country

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