SEOUL, South Korea - The first time North Korea tested a nuclear device, the United Nations tried to hit the reclusive nation's leader where it really hurts - in the stomach.
The global body slapped North Korea with a ban on luxury goods. The sanction targeted Pyongyang's top man - the then-paunchy Kim Jong Il, also known as the Dear Leader. He is a notorious foodie with a taste for fresh lobster, rare cognac, shark-fin soup and sushi sliced by his own Japanese chef. He's also said to like fast cars and leggy blondes.
Nearly three years later, North Korea has tested another nuclear device, and the U.N. is out to punish Kim again. A partial draft resolution calls on U.N. members to immediately enforce the ban on luxury goods.
But analysts doubt the initial ban on luxury goods really forced Kim to eat less caviar and more kimchi, the traditional Korean pickled-cabbage condiment. "No matter what comes out of the U.N. Security Council, there is not much we can do to twist the arm of North Korea," said analyst Lee Sang-hyun of the think-tank Sejong Institute.
Another possible problem with the luxury ban is that Kim's dining and drinking habits have probably changed dramatically since he had a stroke last August. "You're not going to hurt him by cutting off some of his red wine," said Michael Breen, author of the book "Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader."
Breen said a representative of the famous Hennessy winery confirmed for him a few years ago that North Korea was the company's biggest single customer, spending about $700,000 a year on Paradis cognac.
Word came Tuesday that Kim had picked his No. 3 son Kim Jong Un, described as overweight and a heavy drinker, to replace him. That could make luxury goods more of a lever. *