North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong Il’s Horse Power

Kim Jong Il has reportedly purchased 9 Orlov Trotter horses from a farm in south-central Siberia. The DPRK officials who purchased the horses said they would be used in official public events (Photo: Wikimedia)

Kim Jong Il has purchased nine (9) Orlov Trotter from the Altai Stud Farm in the Altai Republic (territory) in south central Siberia.  ITAR TASS reports that the DPRK officials responsible for the purchase of the horses stated that they would be used “in state celebrations and festivities.  They will join a squadron like the one in our President’s regiment.”  The four (4) mares and (5) stallions will be transported to Moscow, and then flown on to Pyongyang.

Kim Jong Il is well-known for his love of horses and riding.  It is possible Pyongyang watchers could see the Orlov Trotters make an appearance during the KWP’s official birthday celebration this coming October.  The horses might also be used for KJI to ride at one of his residences.  The Orlov Trotter is also used for harness racing (several of KJI’s residences have horse racing tracks). ITAR-TASS reports on the background of the Orlov Trotter:

The Orlov Trotter is a horse breed with a hereditary fast trot, noted for its outstanding speed and stamina. It is the most famous Russian horse. The breed was developed in Russia in the late 18th century by Count Alexei Orlov at his Khrenovskoy Stud Farm near the town of Bobrov (Voronezh region). The Orlovs emerged as the result of crossing various European mares (primarily of English, Dutch, Mecklenburg, and Danish breeding) with Arabian stallions. Although not as fast as the Standardbred and French trotters, the Orlovs are more robust, massive, endurable, sure-footed, strong, and tough. Their trotting action is more impressive. Orlovs are extremely valued in Russia as ameliorators of local breeds.

Lebed, b. 1829, record holder and prize winner. Painting by N. Sverchkov, oil on canvas (Photo:

The Orlov Trotters are not the only horsepowered purchases made by the DPRK regime recently.  RFA reports that Kim Jong Il has purchased approximately 160 cars, which have been distributed to KWP provincial, county and municipal committee members and other officials.  A ceremony was reportedly held where some of the cars were distributed to local Party cadres.  The report does not say when the vehicles were purchased or distributed.

Kim Jong Il's chef, Hujimoto Kenji also owned luxury Mercedes Benz presented to him by Kim Jong Il. The number plate, 216, shows how close the recipient was to Kim. (Daily NK)

It is possible the gifting of the cars is being conducted as part of the preparatory work for the 3rd Party Conference in September.  The selection process for the Party Conference’s representatives has been under way since around 22 July, and the population identified as having received these cars play an influential role in the selection of conference representatives.

Daily NK reports:

The RFA source reported on Tuesday, “Kim Jong Il recently gave luxury cars to high officials on Party provincial committees as gifts. There have been events to deliver the presents sent by Kim Jong Il all over the country.”

“With the exception of chief-secretaries and organizing-secretaries from Party provincial committees, who already possess cars, provincial committee directors and workers’ organization secretaries, who did not have cars, were the recipients.”

Another RFA source added, “There was an event to present cars sent by Kim Jong Il in Hyesan. Officials from the Provincial Committee of the Party, People’s Committee and Municipal Committee all attended it.”

The source explained, “The rumor is that these cars are the product of a merger between Germany’s Mercedes Benz and a Chinese motor company. They carry the badge, ‘MBC.’”

However, RFA reports that the source knows neither when the cars were imported nor how much they cost.

An affiliate of 38 North