The Irrawaddy

North Korean Restaurant in Yangon Ordered to Close its Doors

Diners looking for a bite of traditional North Korean fare would head for one spot: the Pyongyang Koryo Restaurant on Saya San Road. Now, it has been closed.

The government ordered a restaurant belonging to the North Korean Embassy in Yangon be shut down recently following a request from the US for Myanmar to respect a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on sanctions against North Korea.

Aryani Manring, who is assistant public affairs spokesperson for the US Embassy, told The Irrawaddy that the US had urged the government of Myanmar to comply with UNSC resolutions.

“The expulsion of DPRK laborers working at the DPRK restaurant in Yangon is part of Myanmar’s compliance with DPRK-related UNSC resolutions,” Manring said, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Manring referred further questions about the closure of the restaurant to the Myanmar government.

The Pyongyang Koryo Restaurant opened on Saya San Road in Bahan Township in 2011 when Myanmar had better ties with North Korea.

A dozen young North Korean women who were all attired in similar dresses served tables at the restaurant. They could speak some Burmese and even sang Burmese language songs.

U Tin Soe, general secretary of the Bahan Township authority, told BBC Burmese language radio yesterday that the Myanmar Immigration Department had ordered the restaurant to close two months ago.

The restaurant has a new owner and is currently undergoing renovations, he said.

U Zaw Htay, chief spokesperson of the President’s Office, refused to comment on the government’s decision to order the restaurant shut when asked by The Irrawaddy. He suggested reporters contact the Yangon regional government for information.

Observers have speculated that the Myanmar government agreed to the US request because it wanted to show it was a good friend of the United States and respects UNSC resolutions.

In the past, the Myanmar Army bought weapons from North Korea when the two countries enjoyed better relations. When the deal was revealed, it attracted condemnation from the United States and other countries. But, today Myanmar appears to want to show that it does not have a close relationship with North Korea anymore.