EXCLUSIVE: How British tourists buying counterfeit replica handbags in Dubai are funding Kim Jong-un’s nuclear missile program

British tourists have been warned against buying counterfeit luxury goods in Dubai because they could be funding North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and his nuclear missile program. Experts say many of the fake handbags, purses and Rolex watches on sale in ‘secret shops’ in Dubai are believed to be have been counterfeited in North Korea. The industry is worth millions of pounds and brings in desperately needed hard currency for the Pyongyang regime.

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The UN Security Council has begun drawing up even tighter sanctions after North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest missile test last week. South Korea accused Kim Jong-un of ‘maniacal recklessness’ and the North Korean ambassador to London was called to the Foreign Office to be told how seriously Britain viewed the test as a breach of the non-proliferation treaty. Thousands of tourists from Britain and other Western countries visit Dubai every year and many end up being lured to hidden Aladdin’s Caves full of items which are the spitting image of the genuine articles.

A Mail Online reporter visited the Al Karama market area in downtown Dubai recently and, after dropping several hints, was told a car would pick him up and take him to a secret location.The shopkeeper said the police checked his premises every day and he could not risk keeping counterfeit goods on display.

The reporter was whisked away to an anonymous block of flats and taken up to the third floor.There the door to a non-descript apartment opened onto a veritable Aladdin’s Cave with Fendi, Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton replica handbags and purses on display along with imitation Rolex watches and other luxury items.

The quality of counterfeiting was exceptional and only an expert would have been able to tell the difference. The replica bags and replica watches were sold for a fraction of the normal price. The merchants were Iranian and, when asked where the bags were actually made, one said: ‘Korea’.

Asked if that meant North Korea, he replied: ‘Yes’. The goods are thought to be brought to Dubai from North Korea via Iran, which is just on the other side of the Straits of Hormuz, although it is not clear if the authorities in Tehran are involved.