As North Korea has been all over the news recently, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the country's recent automotive history, and to our surprise, we actually found something - Pyeonghwa ("peace," in Korean) Motors.
It is a domestic North Korean automaker, which was founded back in 1999 by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church (from South Korea), as well as the local government-owned Ryonbong General Corporation. Now, despite being out of business, the company is still the only one in the country with the right to build, buy and sell used cars.
The company was never a real financial success, and despite turning a profit (or so they claim), it was very far from being in any way relevant other than as a diplomatic tool to smoothen the relations between the two neighboring countries. For instance, despite having a production capacity of 10,000 units per year, Pyeonghwa only built 314 in 2003, while an estimated figure for the year 2005 was closer to 400 units.
It is not worth mentioning the names of the cars they built, because you, like us will forget them shortly after. All you need to know is that they built a few different types of car, including a rebadged version of the SsangYong Chairman, which in turn is a rebadged and updated version of the W210 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Other vehicle they built were made under license from Brilliance of China, a van based on a very old version of the Toyota Hiace, as well as a few Fiat-based models, which were also taken from Brilliance.
In the end, it was more of a joint venture, than a fully-fledged manufacturer, and they really didn't build any cars they could truly call their own, so for that reason we won't mourn the loss of Pyeonghwa Motors, which, in November of 2012, announced the end of its 12-year existence.
The CEO of the company, Park Sang-Kwon has already submitted an application with the local authorities to start a new business (apparently you can't have more than one of those in NK).
By Andrei Nedelea
Photo Credits: Pyeonghwa Motors & Wikipedia