Kim Jong-il launched the organisation in 1974. The organisation is particularly useful given that North Korea is limited by sanctions. David Maxwell, a retired US Army Special Forces colonel and North Korea expert, told the New York Post: “Where do you think Kim gets his cognacs, Mercedes and Rolex watches?
“All the money to buy that stuff comes from Office 39.”
It is believed the official name is Central Committee Bureau 39 of the Workers’ Party of Korea, but it has been referred to as Room 39, Office 39, Bureau 39 or Division 39 by some.
Some reports suggest the husband of Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister, Choe Song, is either a Room 39 official or works for a military unit guarding his brother-in-law.
Jason Lee, a North Korean defector, told the Post: “It’s like a bank for Kim Jong-un.
“But he’s gotten a little more careful in recent years about the illegal activity.
“It was getting too much attention and looking bad for the Party.”
It is understood both Mr Lee and his father worked as executives at Room 39, but later defected to South Korea before reaching the United States.
Sean King, an Asia specialist at Park Strategies in New York, explained to the Post: “The Kims are like an organized crime family masquerading as the leaders of a country.
READ MORE: Why the Korean War matters to the region today, says HARRY J KAZIANIS
In 2016, Thae Yong-ho, a deputy ambassador defected to South Korea.
Mr Thae is now a Member of the National Assembly in South Korea.
It is understood that North Korea does not allow tourists to use the North Korean Won though they are some exceptions.
Tourists thus must use foreign currency.
According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the DPRK, the Euro, US dollar and Chinese renminbi are widely accepted.
It is understood Japanese yen and Russian roubles are accepted at certain locations.
It is believed a few thousand Western tourists visit North Korea each year through state-owned bureaus.
The Foreign Office travel advice for North Korea says: “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.
“This advice is being kept under constant review.”