Workers from the shuttered Pyongyang Koryo Pavilion gather at the
Dandong Train Station on February 9 to return to North Korea. Image: Daily NK
Ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Daily NK obtained photos of employees of a recently-closed North Korean restaurant called Pyongyang Koryo Pavilion in the Chinese border city of Dandong returning home to North Korea.
Pyongyang Koryo Pavilion was the largest of North Korea’s overseas restaurants, and originally employed 200 people. However, the restaurant shut down in November due to intensifying international sanctions targeting North Korea for its nuclear and missile development. Its employees have continued to return to North Korea in groups.
“Management started repatriating the workers in groups following the Pyongyang Koryo Pavilion’s closure, but some of them went to work at other restaurants,” a source in China close to North Korean affairs told Daily NK on February 14. “The 30 people returning ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday were part of the contingent that had been working at other establishments following the shutdown of Pyongyang Koryo Pavilion.”
In September 2017, China’s Commerce Ministry ordered the closure of North Korean companies operating inside the country within 120 days of UN Resolution 2375, which passed on September 11, 2017. The ministry also announced that Chinese joint ventures with North Koreans and North Korean companies would be closed.
Upon the realization that the Pyongyang Koryo Pavilion would likely not be resuming operations, the North Korean authorities began to exfiltrate the workers in stages.
“They’re heading back to their hometowns, where their families live, but they don’t look very happy about it because they’re losing the opportunity to earn money abroad,” the source said.
When asked where they were going, these former North Korean restaurant workers
replied that they were headed back to Pyongyang. Image: Daily NK
Carting their instruments and other belongings, the workers head for the train station
to return to North Korea. Image: Daily NK