With fewer customers coming in the doors, one North Korean restaurant operating near Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex has closed while another is struggling to stay in business, a local source says.
Both had experienced difficulties following last year’s strengthening of U.N. sanctions curbing funds for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, a South Korean resident of Cambodia’s Siem Reap province told RFA’s Korean Service.
South Korean tourists visiting Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat then also began to stay away, Jang Won-Pyo, secretary-general of the province’s Korean Society Association said.
“One restaurant, the Pyongyang Chinsun Kwan, the Friendship Restaurant, closed last October,” Jang said.
“It suddenly went out of business because its profits were less than those of the Pyongyang Naengmyeon Kwan, the Cold Noodle Restaurant.”
The Pyongyang Naengmyeon Kwan, a large restaurant considered a model for North Korean restaurants operating abroad, is also struggling and may close soon, Jang said.
“The restaurant is still running, but has very few customers,” he said.
As many as eight North Korean restaurants were operating in Cambodia in late 2015, but only four—including one in the capital Phnom Penh and the one still open in Siem Reap—are believed to be still in business, Jang said.
Some North Korean restaurants, which pull in foreign currency for North Korea’s cash-strapped regime, have also recently closed in China and in Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
Restaurants in Chinese cities like Shenyang and Dandong near the North Korean border also suffered downturns last year as North Koreans working in cross-border trade began to avoid them, fearing that agents of the regime would watch them there and monitor their movements.
Reported by Jaewan Noh for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Soo Min Jo. Written in English by Richard Finney.