While it’s not uncommon to see South Korean cars bombing along Irish roads, with Kia and Hyundai increasingly popular, it’s unlikely you’ll be crossing paths any time soon with a Pyeonghwa Motors vehicle, the official state-run manufacturer of North Korean. But the company has released a brochure showing its current selection of motors, offering petrolheads a rare glimpse at the closed-off country’s industry.
Pyeonghwa Motors, which gets its name from the Korean word for “peace,” was founded in 1999, finding its origins in a controversial deal struck between South Korea’s Unification Church and Ryonbong General Corp., a business controlled by the North Korean dictatorship. Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a South Korean cleric who preached openly against communism, hoped the joint venture would help foster better North and South relations, which have been in a standoff for more than 60 years.
In 2013, the South Korean church transferred its stake in the company to North Korea, after a prolonged period of poor sales and small profits. Since then, the North Korean authorities have kept information about the motor company to themselves, restricting any reports on its workings or what it has produced.
It is believed that Pyeonghwa’s are relatively small. Mashable reports that one staff member at a dealership claimed that it had only produced 1,600 vehicles last year. The company’s entire production takes place at a factory in Nampo, a port city on North Korea’s western coast. Pyeonghwa’s sole dealership is located in the capital city of Pyongyang.
The cars are advertised at prices of between €9,000 and €27,000, and the cars are widely advertised on billboards around North Korean, among the only products marketed to North Korean consumers. But most of the country’s citizens are incapable of buying a Cuckoo or Land of Korea as the vast majority of North Koreans live in abject poverty. Furthermore, the authoritarian regime restricts private motor-car ownership to a select few.
You can take a look at the Pyeonghwa vehicles from the brochure in the gallery below: