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North Korea: Pyeonghwa Samchunri should lead the ranking

Advertising billboard for the Pyeonghwa Samchunri. Picture by Eric Lafforgue. All Rights reserved.

* See the North Korean capital Pyongyang's streets as if you were there by clicking on title! *

The North Korean car market is very limited but seems to have enjoyed a mini-boom over the last couple of years as more cars can be seen in the formerly deserted streets of Pyongyang. Pyeonghwa Motors (meaning 'Peace' in Korean) was founded in 1999 and has the exclusive rights to car production, purchase and used car sales in North Korea and is only one of two car manufacturers in the country with Pyongsang Auto Works. Pyeonghwa produced an estimated 1,000 vehicles a year.

Pyeonghwa Motors is also currently the only company in North Korea, all sectors put together, to have got the right to advertise. A series of billboards and TV commercials (such as the one above) have been made in an effort to show residents that their country is able to produce products such as motor vehicles. The official Pyeonghwa website is here.

Pyeonghwa Hwiparam II

Pyeonghwa Hwiparam III

The Pyeonghwa Samchunri is a rebadged Jinbei Haise van (itself based on the 1989 Toyota Hiace), assembled under license from Brilliance China Auto. It should be by far the best-selling vehicle in North Korea, followed by the Pyeonghwa Hwiparam II, a rebadged Brilliance BS4, and the Pyeonghwa Premio CUV, a rebadged Huanghai Shuguan (with a Hyundai Santa Fe front and an old gen Kia Sorento back!). The Pyeonghwa Hwiparam III, based on the Brilliance FSV, is the brand's most recent model and has gone on sale in 2011.

Pyeonghwa Premio 

As far as imports are concerned, the best-sellers seem to logically be two popular models from neighbouring countries: the BYD F3, a success in China, and the Lada Priora, #2 in Russia. But no Japanese cars: in 2007, Kim Jong-Il ordered the confiscation of all Japanese-built vehicles... Export-wise, the Pyeonghwa sells the Premio pick-up in Vietnam through Mekong Auto.

More pictures and rare street scenes and videos below.

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Categories: North Korea
  1. erik
    December 23rd, 2013 at 04:36 | #1
    • matgasnier
      December 23rd, 2013 at 18:25 | #2

      Many thanks for this Erik – very interesting indeed! I will write an article about it shortly.

  2. Bill
    March 28th, 2012 at 18:50 | #3

    I don’t think there are many private cars over there. Most of them are cars for state officials. Some VW Passats are govertment cars for sure.

  3. MP
    March 28th, 2012 at 17:33 | #4

    In video 1 that is, sorry! @MP

  4. MP
    March 28th, 2012 at 17:32 | #5

    There’s an American Chrysler Pacifica in 2:16, how did that get there?!

  5. tuga
    March 28th, 2012 at 07:09 | #6

    It’s so strange… who can even afford these cars? I definitely saw an older BMW X5 and a VW Passat over in video 1, and a couple of W123s ( not to mention a bunch of what look like older Japanese cars ). How did they manage to find their way into the country?

    There’s so much we don’t know about this country. Cars don’t even begin to cover it.

  6. March 28th, 2012 at 01:19 | #7

    Mekong auto is actually the parent company of Pyeonghwa, both of them are owned by the moon sect. Mekong auto has the exclusive right to import Fiat in Vietnam. That’s why the first Pyeonghwa were Fiat Palio.

    It’s really hard to have correct informations on Pyeonghwa. They may hold the right of the former Ssangyong Chairman (which is actually a former Mercedes E-class.)

    Kim Jong-Il loved Mercedes and he even tried to built a copy of the 190 in North Korea!

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