North Korea is notorious for its authoritarianism, hatred of Western nations and closed borders that make it nearly impossible to get anything in or out of the country. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, as the saying goes. Every now and then, the rest of us get a read on the vibe inside the closed-off nation.

The occasional videos that leak out show an eclectic car scene (in the capital city of Pyongyang, anyway) including U.S.-spec models that high-ranking North Korean officials should avoid like the plague but don’t.

And now, as luck would have it, there’s a new EV hitting the streets of the Kim dynasty’s main city that—at least in the marketing fluff—beats everything made by those capitalist pigs at Tesla.

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Smoke and mirrors

North Korea doesn't have the greatest reputation for, well, just about everything. That includes its car industry, which is a mishmash of foreign imports and locally-made cars from knock-down kits. It has never developed its own car and even ordered 1,000 Volvos in the mid 1970s but "forgot" to pay for them.

Enter the Madusan EV, a sleek four-door sedan that visitors can purportedly check out at the Madusan Electric Vehicle Exhibition Center on Hwasong Street in Pyongyang. It’s fast, it’s comfortable and it boasts a driving range of up to 447 miles (720 kilometers) on a full charge.

It also has a rather awkwardly blurred-out logo at the front that has a habit of moving around the screen, as you can see in the promotional video embedded below that apparently aired on North Korean state media.

But as with many other claims made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, it’s demonstrably bullshit. As you might have already noticed, the car is actually a Chinese-made BYD Han, which cannot drive 447 miles on a full charge even on its best day. It has a combined WLTP-rated range of 323 miles. Even the city range rating is 411 miles, according to BYD’s official European website.

It's probably not surprising that Chinese EVs are making it to North Korea, considering the close political and (albeit one-sided) trade relationship the two nations have. These cars came in through an import-export company. Specifically, the Madusan Economic Federation, which describes itself as a North Korean foreign trade organization established in 2018 that deals with energy and resource management, smartphone-making and other such activities, according to The Korea Herald.

BYD Han

BYD Han

Madusan EV - a rebadged BYD Han for North Korea

Madusan EV - a rebadged BYD Han for North Korea

Madusan EV - a rebadged BYD Han for North Korea

Madusan EV - a rebadged BYD Han for North Korea

In other words, the cars were imported from China and shipped to the DPRK. It’s unclear who will buy them, considering the average person can barely afford to live and that only half of the population has access to electricity, let alone DC fast chargers.

Some might make their way to party leaders, but from what we’ve seen in the past, they might prefer to stick with their old-school Toyota SUVs and Mercedes-Benz sedans. Those 1,000 Volvo 144s that were never paid for are apparently still a common occurrence on the capital city’s streets, too.

So don't let the Western propaganda fool you: it's a very nice place to go on a fun drive with your best buddies. 

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