SEOUL, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- More North Korea-operated restaurants in China are shutting down months after economic sanctions and group defections of restaurant workers have imposed challenges for Pyongyang.
A source on North Korea told South Korean news agency Yonhap two well-known dining establishments in the Chinese border city of Dandong have suspended operations.
Song Do Won and Ok Ryu Gwan, two restaurants once popular with South Korean tourists, recently ceased service, according to the source.
"Restaurant shutdowns are occurring in succession in Dandong," the source said. "Restaurants facing North Korea and the Yalu River including the most famous Song Do Won and Ok Ryu Gwan recently closed."
Another restaurant called Sinuiju located near Dandong Station, and named after the North Korea border city directly across from Dandong, has stopped operating, according to the source.
The reasons for business trouble include the impact of the United Nations Security Council economic sanctions imposed on North Korea in March and a South Korean government advisory that warned its citizens against patronizing North Korea-run restaurants at overseas locations.
North Korea, in turn, has imposed bans on South Korean customers after the group defection of 12 North Korean waitresses, and their manager.
Pyongyang accused Seoul of abducting the young women.
North Korea restaurants that continue to operate, however, are turning a new leaf on the policy and have begun to partly allow South Korean visitors, according to a source in Dandong who spoke to Radio Free Asia on the condition of anonymity.
The restaurants "do not allow groups of South Koreans but if they come in a mixed group with Chinese nationals they are received," the source said.
Another source in Dalian said restaurants are reversing the ban on South Koreans in order to boost revenue.
North Korea operated more than 20 restaurants in Dandong alone before the closures.
Critics have said North Korea uses earnings from overseas restaurants to finance the development of nuclear weapons.