North Korean-run restaurants in China are turning away South Korean customers amid rising tensions between the two Koreas.
Order from the embassy: Several North Korean eateries in China, including Beijing and borderland cities, confirmed to AFP that they are implementing a strict policy of refusing South Korean diners, citing new regulations from the North Korean embassy. An unnamed Chinese employee at Ryugyong restaurant in the city of Dandong shared that restaurants in the area have been prohibited from serving South Koreans beginning this year.
Doorstep nationality verification:
According to South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo,
employees at Okryugwan in Beijing verify the nationality of customers upon entry and ask, “Are you of Korean descent?”
If they confirm they are South Korean, the response is unequivocal: “You cannot enter. We cannot serve you. Please leave. We only serve Chinese customers.”
Inconsistent enforcement: The ban, which has left South Korean patrons perplexed and disappointed, has so far been enforced inconsistently. While some restaurants in Shanghai, Changchun and Hanoi in Vietnam reported no issues with serving South Koreans, others displayed outright hostility to such patrons.
“We hate them!” a North Korean employee in Shenyang told AFP. “If you bring a South Korean friend, we will not accept them… and won’t serve them.”
Political tensions: Experts believe that this ban reflects North Korea‘s view of South Korea as an enemy state rather than a potential partner for cooperation. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol‘s recent warning to Pyongyang regarding nuclear weapons and North Korea’s increased missile tests have exacerbated tensions.
“The North is taking advantage of the rising pressure from the South to strengthen internal cohesion,” a source told South Korean outlet Hankook Ilbo. “It is likely to have issued instructions to North Korean restaurants and resident officials operating overseas to intensify anti-South sentiment.”