North Korean restaurants in Dandong failing to pay workers’ salaries

Amidst reports of North Korean restaurant
bankruptcies in China due to dwindling customer numbers, reports have emerged that female North Korean employees have had
their salaries suspended. 

On the 22, a source close to the issue in China informed Daily NK that female employees at North Korean
restaurants were regularly receiving their pay until February (handed out by
North Korean managers overseeing each establishment), even if the amounts were
meager. However, in February these paychecks failed to materialize, and the
outlook for March is also grim.

An additional North Korean source currently residing in China corroborated this news.

“For these female workers from Pyongyang, who scrape by and carefully save every penny, not receiving a month’s pay is a serious and heart-wrenching affair. Unable to voice their complaints over this injustice, these women can only comfort each other during the dark nights before they sleep at night far from home, with tears in their eyes as they think of their parents,” she explained.

A group of women from Pyongyang on their way to work at a North Korean restaurant in
Dandong, China. It is claimed that they are not permitted to speak or even observe their
 surroundings freely. Image: Daily NK

Despite this dire state of affairs, the North
Korean authorities have done little to address the workers’ needs. The
government has not made an announcement regarding when the workers will be
paid, instead choosing to shift the blame and urging the workers to continue
toiling with national pride in spite of the “power of hostile U.S.-led
sanctions that are preventing them from earning money.”

The authorities are also engaging in
stricter surveillance and attempting to suppress dissent among the female

Within the North Korean system, although it
may appear as though workers are moving freely within the restaurants, the
female employees from Pyongyang in fact complain about oppressive working

According to the source, as recently as February, these restaurant
workers were permitted to visit the markets or tour the city, provided they
received permission from a trio of North Korean “minders” (surveillance
agents). However, permission for these activities has now been revoked. Since
the beginning of March, due to fears of subversion by the outside world, North
Korea has concluded that the solution is to intensify ‘education’ of its
workers abroad in proper ideology by engaging in what are, essentially,
increased brainwashing efforts.

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