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One increasingly common feature in many cities is the North Korean restaurant, where diners can sample the delights of cuisine from the hermit state without an expensive and difficult journey.The Economist describes North Korean food as “a variety of cold noodles, steamed vegetables, pickled cabbage”, and the (usually state-financed) restaurants serve as a “subtle propaganda arm for the North Korean government, and presumably earns valuable hard currency to be shipped back home”.
However, some South Koreans — who have long-used the restaurants to help connect with those from north of the border — are wondering if there is a more nefarious purpose behind the restaurants.
“Whenever I visited the North Korean restaurant, I frequently felt that the waitresses were eavesdropping on what we were talking about behind the door,” one South Korean businessman told the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo. “They only let me in one specific room, even though there were a lot of vacant tables.”
The paper also reports that one North Korean restaurant Nepal was raided for tax-reasons, and a treasure-trove of documents about local South Korean guests was discovered.
This activity is why the restaurants tend to employ young, good-looking women, the paper reports. “I witnessed that some North Korean restaurants’ waitresses offered sexual services to Southern businessmen working at conglomerates in the South in order to withdraw classified information on the companies,” the businessman told JoongAng Ilbo.
Europe’s first North Korean restaurant opened last year, by the way — and yes, there was North Korean restaurant in the D.C.-area (though it appears to be closed now, and the owner was reportedly anti-regime ex-spy).
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