Former DPRK embassy to become hotel

As has been chronicled before on this website, North Korean embassies generally secure their own  operating funds.  Although this might seem odd to western observers, it is an innovative model that has its benefits (i.e. the embassies earn a profit and economic considerations play a large role in determining whether an embassy is worth the cost).  There is also a downside to this model, and that is that more than one North Korean diplomat has been caught in some sort of shady smuggling or tax avoidance scheme.

The staff at the DPRK’s embassy in Germany, however, have been quite entrepreneurial in managing their real estate holdings.  They are converting their old offices into hotel space:

The Cityhostel Berlin will initially have 37 rooms at a charge of 20 Euros ($31) per head a night, Sankei reported. A reception with a grand piano is being built and a Korean restaurant is due to open in May, the newspaper said.

The embassy buildings, occupying 8,160 square meters (87,788 square feet), were built in the 1970s during the Cold War and are located in old East Berlin, Sankei said. Staff numbers at the embassy were cut after the Cold War ended and the building being converted was previously leased to corporations, Sankei said.

Update 4/5/2008:
From the Daily Telegraph:

A spokesman for the North Korean embassy dismissed the reports as Japanese propaganda, however.

“The rumours about this hostel are based on Japanese media reports, but they are not correct,” the spokesman said.

“The Japanese media are very much influenced by their government and they probably gave out this wrong information because they are our enemies.”

but…

On its website, City Hostel notes that it signed a contract in December to occupy the building, which it describes as “formerly the consulate of North Korea”.

Read the full articles here:
North Korea Converts German Embassy Into Hostel, Sankei Reports
Bloomberg
Hideko Takayama
3/25/2008

Enjoy your stay… at North Korean embassy
Daily Telegraph
Harry de Quetteville
4/5/2008

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