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North Korea's secretive Room 39 within the Worker's Party Building (Credit: conan_mizuta (

North Korea’s Room 39 – the heavily guarded finance machine that keeps the Kim’s living in luxury

A SECRETIVE room within the Orwellian block of the Worker’s Party building in central Pyongyang is the epicentre of North Korea’s illicit financial activity that keeps the Kim family in a life of luxury, and overseen by Kim Jong un’s ruthless sister, controls the foreign currency reserves that allows the regime to stay in power.

Kim Jong un’s sister, Kim Yo jong, keeps a tight grip on the despotic regimes purse strings through her management of the heavily guarded, Room 39.

Room 39 is the control centre for a worldwide web of illicit trading, money laundering, tax haev investment, cryptocurency, drug and arms dealing that brings the Kim’s an estimated profit of $1 billion per year.

North Korea experts Harry Kazianis, John Dale Grover, and Adriana Nazarko writing in February in The National Interest said: “While the extent of her role in maintaining the office is not known, it is likely that due to her position in managing the Kim family, she plays some part in overseeing financial transactions that directly relate to the slush funds financing the regime.”

A building n Pyongyang near North Korea's secretive Room 39
North Korea’s secretive Room 39 (Credit: Stephan at Flickr – source

Washington has tried for years to break the levels of security guarding data on the web of individuals, loactions and institutions that allow the North Korean regime to keep making such a yearly profit.

There has been little success in hacking the intranet of computersystems that handle the regimes slush fund.

The illicit financial activity stemming from the room has increased since former US president Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13551.

This Executive Order pressed heavy sanctions that halted the regime’s cash flow.

The sanction targetted, “individuals and entities facilitating North Korean trafficking in arms and related materiel; procurement of luxury goods; and engagement in certain illicit economic activities, such as money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods and currency, bulk cash smuggling and narcotics trafficking.”

Intelligence reports seem to confirm that Kim Jong un’s sister, Kim Yo jong, is the real power behind the throne.

She is head of the Organization and Guidance Department, this is the re-education machine responsible for reinforcing the teachings of her grandfather and founder of North Korea, Kim Il sung.

Retired US Defense Department analyst Robert Collins said: “In the OGD, issues that require Kim-Jong-Un’s ratification go through Kim Yo-Jong.

“Party cadre are reported to both fear and respect her.”

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