Some 20 overseas restaurants run by the North Korean regime have either stopped operations or closed down outright, a South Korean ruling party lawmaker said Wednesday, citing Seoul’s spy agency.
Lee Chul-woo of the ruling Saenuri Party made the comment to reporters after holding a meeting with officials from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) at the National Assembly.
“The restaurants in foreign countries have either halted business or have been closed due to financial difficulties,” Lee said, adding that the NIS believes Pyongyang will more likely turn to illegal means to raise hard currency.
North Korea-run restaurants in foreign nations serve as one of the main sources of hard currency flowing into North Korea. Some of these funds are suspected of bankrolling the North’s nuke and missile programs amid toughened international sanctions.
South Korea estimates that North Korea runs approximately 130 restaurants in some 12 countries including China, Vietnam and Cambodia, earning US$10 million annually.
“North Korea is also engaged in various illegal acts such as forging export and import documents, trafficking banned products and opening fake accounts,” Lee said. Read More