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Government shutters all North Korean businesses in line with UN sanctions

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
A building on Monivong Boulevard that was a North Korean restaurant. KT/Pann Rachana

The government has shuttered all businesses run by North Koreans in the Kingdom, in line with UN sanctions against that country over its nuclear and missile programmes.

The premises which were closed down include six restaurants and the North Korean-built Panorama museum in Siem Reap province which were set up before the sanctions were imposed.

On December 22, 2017, the United Nations Security Council issued sanctions which required the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad and gave member states two years to comply with the ruling.

In September 2019, the UNSC, in response to North Korean nuclear testing, passed a resolution that imposed a new round of sanctions on North Korean businesses abroad.

Tourism Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak said the four restaurants in Phnom Penh and two others in Siem Reap province were closed by December 22, following the UNSC resolution, which requires member states to repatriate North Koreans earning money overseas.

“All these six restaurants were run by North Korean employers and most of their employees were Cambodians,” he said. “The ministry had earlier informed the owners of the restaurants about the matter and they agreed to shut their businesses down.”

Kim Sereyroth, head of the food and hospitality services department at the Ministry of Tourism, yesterday said the ministry had closely observed the closure of the North Korean restaurants, adding that 10 investment companies run by North Korean nationals were also ordered to close.

“From what I know, the government will have to submit a report about all these matters to the UNSC by January 9,” he said.

Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, yesterday said Panorama museum, opened to the public in 2015 and situated near Angkor Wat, had its operations suspended in mid-December.

“Following the international sanctions, the museum has been ordered to stop its activities and the North Korean owners, as well as its employees, have left,” he said. “We are waiting for a new decision from the government on the museum’s future.”

According to General Keo Vanthan, a spokesman of the General Department of Immigration, Cambodia had a total of 182 North Koreans as of December 22, 2019.

“179 left the country but 62 came back for visits on tourist visas. There are nine North Koreans still in the country,” he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong yesterday said Cambodia is one of 193 members of the United Nations and the closures of the businesses and museum will not harm relations between the Kingdom and North Korea.

“I think there is nothing for us to be concerned about. As a UN member state, we must respect and implement its decisions,” he said. “We are just following the UN resolutions so I think we don’t have to be concerned over this [the closures].”

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