North Korea and the Western world aren’t friends. Sanctions restrict the type of goods the Asian country can get from the outside world. But that doesn’t keep everything out. A video published to YouTube earlier this month by a former North Korean shows several cars that shouldn’t be there, making for a deeply interesting look at the car scene in the dictator-led country.

The video shot from a bicycle as it rides around the capital city of Pyongyang. Shooting video like a TikTok influencer wouldn’t have gone over well with the government, so don’t expect excellent production quality. Nevertheless, the recording shows off a number of models sold by automakers that have no official presence in the country.

Many of North Korea’s imported vehicles arrive through dubious channels, often via China and other friendly nations. Not many people own cars in North Korea, with walking and bicycling being most citizens’ primary modes of transportation. Vehicle ownership is often reserved for prestigious members of society.

However, the video shows a few luxury vehicles cruising the wide, Brutalist streets. There are several older Mercedes-Benz cars, including W123- and W124-generation cars. Toyota is another popular brand, with a first-generation Highlander highlighted early in the video. A third-generation Lexus LX shows up toward the end just before what looked like a US-market Audi Q7 cruises past the camera.

It’s unclear when Jaka Parker, the video’s original publisher, captured this footage. It appears to have been shot in secret, and it’s likely a few years old. Still, it’s nice to know there are car-spotting opportunities in a place as walled-off as North Korea.



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