As the saber-rattling between the US and North Korea continues to escalate, a damning report has found that the ‘rogue state’ owes the City of New York over $150,000 in unpaid parking tickets.
“It is false. Whenever we have a ticket, we pay. Because, you know, if we have three tickets the city does not allow us to renew their permission,” Jong Jo, secretary of North Korea’s UN mission, told NBC.
The North Korean diplomatic mission to the United Nations owes more than $156,000 for 1,300 unpaid parking tickets, dating back to the 1990s. Other parking offenders include Iran ($184,987), China ($398,736), Syria ($362,550) and Russia ($104,231).
In 2002, the US State Department issued a memorandum of understanding which stated that parking privileges for diplomats can be revoked if they accumulate more than three parking tickets. This led to a massive drop in diplomatic parking violations, with the cumulative total of fines incurred by foreign diplomats in the city since reaching $700,000.
“The Department strictly enforces the rules and associated consequences concerning our extension of driving privileges to foreign mission members in the United States,” a US Department of State spokesperson said in a statement as cited by NBC.
“This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, meaning we ensure that, irrespective to an individual’s entitlement to immunity, there are consequences when a foreign mission member fails to comply with U.S. motor vehicle laws.”
The removal of parking privileges has also been used recently as a punitive measure as diplomatic relations between the US and Russia have cooled.