The Dear Leader Diner

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

June 14th, 2011

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Australian journalist Sebastian Strangio describes the decor in Vladivostok’s Pyongyang Café, one of a chain of restaurants run by the North Korean government:

No pictures of the Kim Il-Sung grace the walls, no slogans stamped out in shrill red Korean script. Instead, the décor excels in a sort of kitschy chinoiserie: the walls of one room are covered with naturalistic motifs — golden autumn leaves and towering cliffs — complete with a fake tree that “emerges” from the painted-on scene. Overlooking my booth was a framed poster of a woman looking out coyly from behind a large fan, the Chinese character for “double happiness” inscribed on every second blade.

It’s not all tacky fun; the restaurants provide foreign currency to the DKRP government and may also be used to launder proceeds from illegal activities. And the food is overpriced.

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