Kim Jong Un's Net Worth Is Higher Than You Might Expect

In late April 2020, conflicting reports surfaced about the health of Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea. Rumors about Kim's wellbeing first started on April 15, 2020, when the supreme leader "failed to make a public appearance at a key state holiday," following which he "has since remained out of sight," per The Globe and Mail.

According to the news outlet, South Korea's media reported that Kim was either in cardiovascular surgery or was isolating to avoid the coronavirus. Then various reports circulated that he actually died. However, Moon Chung-in, a top foreign policy adviser to South Korean President Moon, said to CNN, "Our government position is firm. Kim Jong-un is alive and well. He has been staying in the Wonsan area since April 13. No suspicious movements have so far been detected."

In light of these curious events, there's renewed interest in North Korea and Kim Jong Un himself. One big question mark concerns Kim's finances, a topic we explore in-depth after the jump. 

Kim Jong Un reportedly has a taste for luxury

Despite North Korea's international sanctions, Kim Jong Un reportedly arrives for public events in expensive cars, including a black Mercedes-Benz. "High-end Western goods are making their way to North Korea's elite through a complex system of port transfers, secret high-seas shipping, and shadowy front companies," as an investigation conducted by The New York Times and the Center for Advanced Defense Studies explained in July 2019 about the phenomenon.

CNN also reported that in 2017, Kim supposedly had purchased "a gleaming white yacht, expensive liquors and even the equipment necessary to kit out a luxury ski resort." As if those items aren't eyebrow-raising enough, CNN also claimed that, in 2015, North Korea spent more on luxury goods "than it did on licit imports from the rest of the world combined."

To put this all in context, Kim reportedly warned his citizens in 2016 to prepare for possible famine and economic hardships, per CNN.

How North Korea allegedly makes its money

North Korea has utilized many strategies to fill its coffers, including hacking banks, selling weapons, dealing drugs, counterfeiting cash, and trafficking endangered species, CNN reported.

These money-making schemes aren't just to fund Kim Jong Un's luxurious lifestyle, but also to pay for the military and the "country's nuclear and missile programs," per CNN.

These alleged illicit activities bring in big money, as a 2008 Congressional Research Service report estimated that Pyongyang racks up as much as $500 million to $1 billion in profits annually. This report got even more precise, stating that North Korea's criminal activity allegedly includes the production and trafficking in heroin and methamphetamine, counterfeit cigarettes, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, including Viagra.

Anthony Ruggiero, a former deputy director of the US Treasury Department, explained during a 2017 panel (via CNN), "North Korea will sell anything to anyone as long as they pay."

So what is Kim Jong Un worth?

So, how much is Kim Jong Un worth? The leader is reportedly worth a whopping $5 billion, per Celebrity Net Worth. This figure was gathered in 2013 when a South Korean and American investigation reportedly located more than 200 bank accounts allegedly controlled by Kim and his family. The supposed bank accounts were found all over the world, from countries including, Austria, Lichtenstein, Russia, Singapore, China, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, Seoul-based newspaper, Chosun Ilboreported.

The reports claim that Kim owns more than 20 palaces mansions, and has spent a lot of his time on an island off the coast of North Korea.

With such a penchant for luxury, it's not necessarily surprising to hear that Kim Jong Un's potential health problems include lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, as Daily NK, an online newspaper based in South Korea reported (via CNN).

If these reports are true, Kim is one wealthy man.