Pyongyang (restaurant chain)
Pyongyang is a chain of 130 restaurants named after the capital of North Korea in a dozen countries around the world. The restaurants are owned and operated by the Haedanghwa Group, an organisation of the government of North Korea.
Pyongyang restaurants are found mainly in China near the North Korean border and also Beijing and Shanghai, but in the 2000s the chain has been expanding into South East Asian cities including Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang, Vientiane, Dhaka, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. There is also one restaurant in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and one in Kathmandu, Nepal. The restaurants initially catered to the many South Korean businessmen in South East Asia, and have now become popular with curious tourists. A branch was opened in Amsterdam in 2012 along with Dutch co-owners, closed 7 months later, and reopened in December 2013 under the name Haedanghwa in a new location, which closed a year later. The restaurant's locations in Bangkok were temporarily shut down, but were re-opened again in 2015. Similarly, their branches in Pattaya were closed down. It was believed that a new branch was set to open in Scotland, in line with Kim Jong Un's interest in the country after it's 2014 independence referendum, although this has been denied by North Korean officials.  According to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper there are some 100 North Korean restaurants in China alone.
The restaurants serve Korean food, including kimchi dishes, Pyongyang "cold noodle", barbecued cuttlefish and dog meat soup. Patrons may also buy North Korean products such as ginseng wine and an unlabelled aphrodisiac claimed to be made from bears. The prices are relatively high and in US dollars.
The staff are attractive, young Korean women in traditional Chosŏn-ot dress, who also perform karaoke as well as song and dance routines in the style of the North Korean Mass Games for the customers. Staff from North Korea typically work on 3 year contracts, and are often highly trained graduates of arts colleges. Photography is generally not permitted inside.
The first Western outpost of the restaurant chain was officially opened in Osdorp, a residential neighborhood in the outskirts of Amsterdam in February 2012. The menu and policies of this restaurant differ from its Asian counterparts, serving no dog meat or ginseng wine. However, in September, 2012, amid mutual accusations between the Korean staff and the Dutch partner, the restaurant closed.
According to Swedish journalist Bertil Lintner, the restaurants are one of several overseas business ventures of Room 39, a North Korean government organization dedicated to acquiring and laundering foreign currency for the North Korean leadership.
North Korean defectors report that the restaurants are run by local middlemen who are required to pay between US$10,000 and US$30,000 each year to the North Korean government. The North Korean staff, who live on the restaurant premises, are said to be thoroughly screened for political loyalty and to be closely watched by on-site North Korean security agents. In the 2000s, according to Daily NK, several attempted escapes by waitresses in China led to the closure of several restaurants and the repatriation of their staff. In 2016, South Korea announced that 13 restaurant workers had defected from a Pyongyang restaurant chain abroad.
- Branches outside North Korea of Okryugwan or Okryu Restaurant that is a restaurant in Pyongyang, North Korea, founded in 1960.
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