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N. Korean restaurants in Russia refuse to accept S. Korean customers

North Korean restaurants operating in Russia are no longer accepting South Korean customers. The policy change appears to be part of an order by North Korean authorities to turn away South Korean customers at all North Korean restaurants overseas.

On Apr. 1, a source in Russia told Daily NK that South Korean visitors to the North Korean Pyongyanggwan (“Pyongyang Restaurant”) in Vladivostok were unexpectedly turned away during a visit in mid-March.

The restaurant had previously been a popular destination for South Korean tourists and Korean expatriates in Russia.

A restaurant employee had struck up a conversation with the group as they were escorted to their seats. However, as soon as the group sat down, the employee asked them, “Are you puppets?” When the customers asked for clarification, the employee explained that he wanted to know if the customers were “from the South Korean puppet state.”

When the customers replied that they were from South Korea, the North Korean staff told them, “We can’t serve puppets here, get out right now,” and kicked the customers out of the restaurant.

This particular group of South Korean guests had been visiting Pyongyanggwan for several years and had eaten at the restaurant as recently as January without any problems. As a result, the group was quite confused by the sudden turn of events.

According to the source, “in the past, when customers revealed that they were from South Korea, the North Korean staff would be very friendly and make comments like ‘we are compatriots,’ but the customers in question now say that the staff’s attitude seems to have changed overnight.”

Restaurants in China also refuse South Korean customers

At a year-end plenary meeting of the Party Central Committee in 2023, Kim Jong Un redefined the relationship between the two Koreas as that between “two hostile warring states. He expanded on these remarks in a speech to the Supreme People’s Assembly in January, calling for “the ideas of reunification, reconciliation, and North and South Koreans as ‘one people’ to be completely erased from the national history of our republic.”

Following these remarks, there have been several reports of party organizations such as the country’s youth league receiving political lecture materials urging members to “refer to the south as the ‘South Korean puppet state.’”

Against this backdrop, it appears that North Korean restaurants overseas have received similar instructions to refer to South Korea and South Koreans as “the South Korean puppet state” and “puppets” and to turn away South Korean customers.

Beyond Russia, North Korean restaurants in China’s Liaoning Province have also stopped accepting South Korean customers. However, restaurant staff have not stopped South Korean visitors who come with Chinese diners or otherwise do not reveal their identities.

North Korean restaurants in China briefly refused service to South Korean diners last year under the pretext of “political tensions,” but the restaurants began accepting South Korean patrons just two months later.

“I don’t know how long they will ban South Korean customers from the restaurants,” the source in China told Daily NK. “Since the policy seems to be fairly new, if South Korean patrons go to North Korean restaurants alone [without other Chinese diners], they might be turned away for the time being.”

Translated by Rose Adams. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

April 02, 2024 at 07:38AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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