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Olga Boiko

Rotterdam, Holland, is a bustling international seaport with some appropriately alert customs officers, who, from years of practice, have a way of sussing out what’s really in the millions of containers that come through the port annually. And so it was with no real fanfare late last month that, on a weekend, some internal warning flags were sent up and the officers set about investigating a container bound for China. Auspiciously, the container was flagged for investigation just as the non-summit-summit between strongman Jong-un and President Donald Trump was in the midst of falling apart.

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Meanwhile, In Seoul: Pro-US activists deface a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an anti-North Korea rally against a summit between the US and North Korea, in Seoul on February 26, 2019. – Kim Jong Un arrived in Hanoi on February 26 to ultra-tight security and enthusiastic crowds ahead of a second summit with Donald Trump, as the world looks for tangible progress over North Korea’s nuclear programme. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

While it’s assumed that North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un is continuing his father’s and grandfather’s luxury consumption — Jong-un was, famously, sent to a Swiss boarding school, hence his reported taste for Emmentaler cheese — it’s rare to get such an odd, and oddly-clear picture as the contents of this container provides of what, exactly, constitutes luxury, as defined by the world’s last hardline Communist regime.

Of course, part of the difficulty faced by Jong-un in importing anything, from anywhere, including Russia, will be the extensive trade sanctions, so that’s what the container, its contents, and its roundabout shipping manifest were all about.  The first difficulty faced by the officers in Rotterdam was how to move the pieces of a fuselage of an airplane that had been on top of the container containing the vodka.  It took some days to wrangle the fuselage off the thing.

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Another View:  90,000 bottles of vodka, that may have been destined for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his army command. (Photo by Robin UTRECHT / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo credit should read ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images)

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