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North Korean restaurants in Cambodia suspend operations, report says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean restaurants in Cambodia suspend operations, report says
North Korean restaurant workers overseas are the target of international sanctions. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- All six North Korean restaurants that once operated in Cambodia have shuttered, according to a South Korean press report.

Yonhap's correspondent in Hanoi, Vietnam, reported Wednesday the restaurants might have closed following requests from Cambodia, a U.N. member state, to Pyongyang.

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A Cambodia-based source told the South Korean news agency the request from Phnom Penh included demands all North Korea's state-sanctioned guest workers be repatriated.

Operations stopped at key restaurants in the Cambodian capital and in Siem Reap, a popular tourist destination and the site of the ruins of Angkor Wat, on Saturday, according to the report.

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Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia's foreign minister, had recently met with visiting North Korean diplomat Ri Gil Song. The Cambodian official told Ri Phnom Penh had no choice but to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Under Security Council sanctions Resolution 2397, adopted on Dec. 22, 2017, U.N. member states are required to repatriate all North Korean guest workers who contribute to Pyongyang's earnings of foreign currency. The dollars earned have been linked to North Korean purchases that go toward weapons development.

South Korean expatriates in Cambodia also told Yonhap North Korean workers are expecting to return home, and that the sign outside the North Korean restaurant in Phnom Penh, Arirang, has been covered with white paint.

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North Korean restaurants could be shuttering at a time when Pyongyang has promoted "self-reliance" in state media.

The regime released more images of Kim Jong Un on Wednesday, riding a horse on Mount Paektu, accompanied by first lady Ri Sol Ju.

Pak Jong Chon, North Korea's chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, said Pyongyang would use force "if needed" and warned the United States of dire consequences on Wednesday.

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Pak was responding to a statement from U.S. President Donald Trump, who said Tuesday in London the United States would use military force "if we have to" if North Korea does not abide by denuclearization requirements.

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