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U.S. May “Pay Dearly,” But It’s North Korea Who Owes Money

By: Bridget Clerkin September 29, 2017
North Korea, like a host of other less-than-friendly nations, owes New York City $156,000 for parking violations amassed over the last three decades.

North Korea’s foreign minister recently warned that U.S. residents may “pay dearly” for President Donald Trump’s incessant ill-tempered tweeting, but there’s one American interest the Asian nation currently can’t afford: parking tickets.

The country’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations in New York City has incurred over 1,300 parking violations, according to an NBC New York investigation. And those write-ups don’t come cheap.

The investigation estimated North Korea owes more than $156,000 in parking ticket fees to the City of New York, on violations dating back to the 1990s.

When approached by the news team about the situation, a North Korean official said the charges weren’t true, citing a 2002 rule issued by New York that would allow the city to revoke diplomatic parking passes if a nation racks up more than 3 tickets. Still, NBC insists a lion’s share of the debt was incurred before the new policy passed, keeping the president’s favorite country to antagonize on the hook for a bulk of the fees.

But North Korea is far from the only nation to owe money to the city, NBC found.

All told, the report estimated more than $16 million in combined fees were owed, dating back to the 1990s. The tickets were all issued to diplomatic vehicles, struggling to find parking at and around the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan.

Other nations in the red include China, which owes the city $398,763 in unpaid fines; Syria, with $362,550 in parking debt; Iran, with a running toll of $184,987; and Russia, which owes $104,231, according to the report.

And while the violations are old, they’re not forgotten. Unpaid tickets incurred before the 2002 rule change are still very much in play as active debt, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has declared.

While it’s rare for a foreign diplomat to be punished for such a thing, penalties could include the loss of American driving privileges.

Still, with the way U.S.-North Korea relations are heading, the Asian country may soon stop bothering to visit the U.N. at all.

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