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How Classic Volvo Cars Are Thriving in North Korea: From 144 to XC90

Volvo, a symbol of safety
Relations with North Korea are particularly complicated
What model can be seen in North Korea?

Volvo vehicles in North Korea

The Swedish premium car brand Volvo has undergone significant changes recently. Although now manufactured in China and with an increased stake by Geely Automobile, Volvo still retains its reputation as a symbol of safety. Surprisingly, the brand enjoys popularity in North Korea.

It was the 1970s when North Korea’s mining industry was active, and Sweden evaluated North Korea’s potential and began selling Volvo vehicles through trade with North Korea. At the time, the transaction did not go smoothly, and Sweden did not receive payment, and this is how the relationship between Sweden’s Volvo and North Korea began.

Volvo 144

Volvo spotted in North Korea
The most commonly seen model, the 144

According to reports, Volvo vehicles from the past can still be seen in North Korea today. Let’s look at which models are being driven in North Korea. The first model to be introduced is Volvo’s 144. Volvo’s four-door sedan 144, first produced in 1966, was equipped with a four-cylinder engine and produced a maximum output of 90 horsepower.

It is said to be one of the most frequently encountered Volvo vehicles in downtown Pyongyang. What is unique about the 144 seen in North Korea is that, in most cases, the headlamp wipers, a well-known Volvo feature, are not visible. Also, many thieves only take off wipers, so they continuously remove them when parking the vehicle.

Volvo Taxi

The familiar boxy Volvo
Volvo’s flagship 200 series

The second Volvo model seen in North Korea is the 200 series, which has an angular and stately design that is familiar in South Korea as a boxy Volvo. The 200 series, which maintained Volvo’s flagship model lineup then, was mainly used as a taxi in North Korea. It is said that even today, Volvo taxis are often seen driving.

Although sedan and wagon models were launched, only the sedan is mainly seen in North Korea. The 200 series, equipped with a 4-cylinder engine and a 6-cylinder engine, continued production from 1974 to 1993 and disappeared after the launch of the 700 series.

Volvo XC90

The most recently spotted Volvo
Flagship SUV XC90

The last Volvo vehicle captured in North Korea is the flagship SUV, the XC90. This large SUV has been produced since 2002. Customers could choose between a model equipped with a 5-cylinder 2.5L turbo gasoline engine producing 208 horsepower and a model equipped with a 6-cylinder 2.9L twin-turbo gasoline engine generating 268 horsepower.

The XC90, long evaluated as the safest vehicle, continues to be popular due to Volvo’s unique design and safety. So far, we have looked at three representative Volvo models in North Korea, which can be seen due to the complex interests between North Korea and Sweden.

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