January 03, 2011 09:59
North Korea has shut down a restaurant in Kathmandu and recalled all of its staff after the manager absconded with the takings in late November.
South Koreans in Kathmandu said the 13 to 15 North Korean staff of the Kumgangsan restaurant were recalled to the North right after the manager fled.
But the Kathmandu branch of the Pyongyang Okryugwan restaurant chain, which had been misidentified as the one where the manager worked, is still in business in a back alley about 1 km across the street from Kumgangsan.
Most South Korean tourists and about 400 expats in Kathmandu have stopped going to the restaurant since the South Korean Embassy in Nepal wrote to expats and tour operators asking them to refrain from visiting North Korean restaurants after the North's torpedo attack on the Navy corvette Cheonan in March last year.
"Please refrain from visiting North Korean restaurants that are becoming sources of funds for the Kim Jong-il regime. Anyone who has visited such restaurants will be subject to investigation on charges of violating the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Law and the National Security Law upon returning home," the embassy warned in an e-mail.
A South Korean resident said the Kumgangsan and Okryugwan restaurants had depended largely on South Korean customers, so their sales must have dwindled.
The Kumgangsan manager, identified as Yang, reportedly came to South Korea via India. Nepalese police released two South Koreans who were arrested after North Korea accused them of kidnapping him and were deported on charges of violating immigration law.
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