Seoul asks tourists not to eat at overseas North Korean restaurants

Posted on : 2012-06-23 12:33 KST Modified on : 2012-06-23 12:33 KST
In retracted claim, government said restaurant revenue supports dictatorship

By Park Byong-su staff reporter
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) sent a notice requesting that its overseas missions discourage local Koreans and tourists from patronizing North Korean restaurants.
According to June 22 accounts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT), the government sent the notice to embassies in Italy, the Czech Republic, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as a general consulate in Qingdao, China. Between June 11 and 19, the missions put up a message on their home pages titled "Please do not use North Korean restaurants."
The message read, "What you pay eating at a North Korean restaurant goes to support the North Korean dictatorship and strengthen its military including, nuclear weapon and missile development."
The message said the amount paid to workers at the restaurant was just 10% to 30% of total revenues, paid in North Korean won, so that all the foreign currency went to the North Korean regime.
"The more you use North Korean restaurants, the more North Koreans will continue to suffer in agony," it continued.
Overseas missions said that North Korea would reject reforms, openness, and other changes to its regime as it earns more foreign currency, and that its citizens would therefore continue to live under the repression of dictatorship.
"The North Korean restaurants that people visit out of curiosity are benefiting the North Korean regime, posing a threat to South Korea and prolonging the suffering of the poor North Korean citizenry," they said.
An official of MOFAT explained that NIS headquarters in Seoul sent the notice to diplomats. He added that NIS diplomats showed it to their ambassadors or general consul and the message was put up on the home pages of missions.
An MOFAT official in one office related to foreign affairs and national security didn’t support the message, saying it was "hard to believe my eyes."
"What day and age are we living in?" the official asked. "I don't have any idea what kind of pocket change they're stopping from getting into the country by preventing North Koreans from running restaurants."
Observers said the government's orders were contradictory, given that US$55 million a year in foreign currency is going into North Korea through the Kaesong Industrial Complex. They described the measures as "Cold War tactics" aimed at shutting off private sector exchanges.
After the outcry, MOFAT decided to delete the message from the web sites, thoug unaware that it had been sent to diplomatic missions.

Please direct questions or comments to []

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Most viewed articles