SHENYANG, SHANGHAI, BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Korea Bizwire) — In accordance with U.N. sanctions on North Korea, the Chinese government has ordered all businesses run by citizens of the embattled state to close by January 9.
When the U.N. agreed to punish North Korea for its recurring attempts to develop its nuclear arsenal on September 12, China promised the international community it would shutter all North Korean for-profit endeavors located within its borders.
The decree is having its intended effect, with North Korean eateries in Shenyang, Shanghai, and Beijing, as well as restaurants near the border closing up shop one by one.
On January 8, a day before the deadline set for the North Korean pullout, diners headed to the popular Koreatown restaurant Morankwan in Xita, Shenyang were greeted with locked doors and a closure sign.
The lifelessness of the establishment contrasted with the typical vibrancy of the place. Under normal circumstances, female employees would hold a 10-minute exercise session in front of the building before official opening hours, chatting with passers-by.
But the current political atmosphere hanging over Northeast Asia has created abnormal circumstances, not least for North Korean expatriates. Calling the phone number provided on the closure sign, which stated, “Closed due to renovation”, a man identifying himself as the manager reiterated that the restaurant had been closed for interior work, and that a date for reopening had not been set.
When asked whether the closure was due to the Chinese government’s January 9 deadline, the manager denied it was the case and explained that the female staff were still in Shenyang, with a certain number scheduled to return to North Korea because of expiring visas.
Whether other North Korean restaurants in Xita have also closed remains unverified, though reports of closure among those located throughout China are increasing.
Numbering around a hundred, establishments specializing in North Korean cuisine proliferated throughout China over many years, and were seen as an alternative means of generating foreign currency for Pyeongyang.
Should all businesses including restaurants be pushed out, the losses suffered will be a sore point for North Korea, as data from last October shows an accumulated $100 million in North Korean coin has been invested in China.
With denials for visa extensions for female employees and work stoppage orders reportedly facing North Koreans at every turn, restaurant owners are sinicizing their menus and staff to overcome these obstacles.
For instance, one North Korean restaurant in Beijing has replaced traditional music from home with western-style classical music. Instead of a North Korean menu, a selection dominated by Chinese dishes is placed in front of every customer. Locals now number among the waitstaff and the kitchen staff.