Meet Pyeonghwa Motors, North Korea's Only Modern Day Automaker [w/Videos]


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





pcurve said... »April 08, 2013

@5:56 2nd video. Hunter alignment machine?! I don't think even my car dealer has one of those!!

Ariel said... »April 08, 2013

That´s a Fiat Siena

mccarluvr123 said... »April 08, 2013

This article may seem silly and I understand that it's easy to make fun of and criticize North Korea, but please don't make fun of this. I know it may be easy for outsiders and non-Koreans to make fun of North Korean people. But you have to realize that most people in North Korea are even too poor to afford there cars, which are basically castoffs from automakers in more developed countries. The advertising is propaganda as these cars are being "marketed" to North Koreans who are fortunate enough to have been picked to live in the cities, most likely Pyongyang. These people are chosen because of their loyalty to the government. Less fortunate people live in the countryside, some are so poor they have to eat mud and tree bark. You have to realize these people don't want to live under the type of government that is in place in North Korea. In fact, I would bet that many government officials don't even like it, but everyone has to tolerate it. The people are terrified by threats made by a government that couldn't carry them out even if they tried. So yes, these cars, along with their advertising, do seem like a joke, but North Korea is very much a reality. So please, don't laugh.

Pongbong said... »April 08, 2013

I can imagine Pyeonghwa could be the value-driven, cheaper counterpart to Kia and Hyundai in a newly-united Korea, that's if the company survives reunification, a possible war, and a host of other administrative massacres.

Anonymous said... »April 08, 2013

Who shoved a stick up your a***ole? Of course we can laugh!

lacutis2012 lacutis said... »April 08, 2013

the homogonized hyper capitalistic system that we live in..this seems a little refreshing to watch...

john1168 said... »April 08, 2013

Actually, I found this article and videos interesting. Actually it's a real shame that Kim Jong-un kept things status quo when he took over there. He seriously had a real opportunity to turn things around there but he didn't. He could have modernized things a bit, started up a few new industries where they could have exported some products and then it all would have generated some revenue so his peeps could eat and buy some stuff thereby injecting more money into the economy. He does'nt have to go all out capitalist. He can still do the whole "iron fist" thing if that's what he's into but he would have at least gotten NK going in the right direction. And the people would love him for it so, it's not like he'd lose control of his country or something. He could have used China as a model. Unless he does'nt like China and thinks they're sellouts to the corporate man or something. It's just a shame because in almost all cases, the regular people are just fine, it's usually the leaders that are all F'ed up. And as a result, the regular people suffer. I go to Seoul/Incheon once in a while and it's interesting to see all the growth there. Amazing.

john1168 said... »April 08, 2013

Oh, one more thing. So, if I understand the article correctly, NK is losing their only car manufacturer? Is that CEO starting another car company or is he going into a completely different business? Granted, NK probably does'nt need that many cars but I wonder if they'll build another car company?

gobbleit said... »April 09, 2013

picture number 11 showed that cars are not only for NK, but they are for the Vietnamese too.

Braddo said... »April 09, 2013

Someone needs to pop Kim in the head - get a real leader and make your country proud. This guy is NUTS! and his war efforts are like these cars - a joke.

scottyrob82 said... »April 09, 2013

Forget the car, what is that in the picture in the background?

Castro said... »April 09, 2013

You need to know that Pyeonghwa is the only company allowed to advertise in North Korea. There isn't any advertising board of any other company in the country, except the typical regime propaganda. Furthermore, only a few people selected by the goverment can buy cars there.

I also recollected information about the first try to build an "occidental wannabe" car, the Kaengaseng 88. You can read about it here (in Spanish): (I hope it's not considered Spam, I do not earn any money by posting this).

Kaveh Ghavim said... »April 09, 2013

Man, they are all really bad copies of other cars. Look at that one that looks like a BMW 5 series and the Fake Toyota land cruiser with what looks like real land cruiser headlights.

Pedro said... »April 09, 2013

Do they contact Fiat? Or do they just make it?

europeon said... »April 09, 2013

Typical western attitude...

I was born a good part of my life in a communist country that was just as worse as North Korea is today, so excuse while I go laugh my ass off.

DarkBridgEyEvil said... »April 09, 2013


cozappz said... »April 09, 2013

Wait for me.

mccarluvr123 said... »April 09, 2013

No one's going to stop you from laughing, but doing so just makes you look immature. We should at least care a little that these people are being so brainwashed and oppressed that they don't even know man has landed on the moon. For a government to do that is just not right. I don't even think that necessarily everyone in the North Korean government is to blame, mainly just Kim Jong Un and his advisors. Now, I don't want to turn this into a political debate here, I was just saying that the situation there is nothing to laugh about and that we should care because it is affecting millions of innocent people and their families!

Yavor Trassiev said... »April 09, 2013

Right on!

brian said... »April 09, 2013

The Chairman was based on the Mercedes W124.

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