DPRK restaurant in Dubai

NPR published a story about a North Korean restaurant in Dubai.  According to the article:

The Dubai branch of the Okryu-Gwan restaurant is tucked into the corner of a nondescript business park in Dubai’s Deira neighborhood. In the dining room, the all-female staff is dressed in colorful gowns and robes. Most speak decent English and are happy to guide newcomers to Pyongyang cuisine through the menu.

The signature naengmyon cold noodles are recommended, but the menu is extensive, with varieties of kimchi, the pickled cabbage dish popular on both ends of the Korean peninsula, as well as Korean meat and fish dishes. It’s not quite as spicy as they do it in Seoul, says one waitress pressed for the difference between North and South Korean cooking.

As the food begins to arrive, a synthesizer strikes up a theremin-sounding introduction, and soon the waitresses are onstage, belting out Korean songs and decades-old American pop.

The Okryu-Gwan restaurants are an important source of hard currency for Pyongyang, says Marcus Noland, a North Korea expert with the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, via e-mail.

Since so few North Koreans get to travel, Noland says, being picked to work in the restaurants is a plum assignment.

Potential staff members are thoroughly vetted for political reliability, he added, and pressure may be used against family members to minimize the risk of defection. But as long as the restaurants meet their monthly revenue quotas, the regime tends not to interfere.

Dubai’s Okryu-Gwan is tiny compared with the cavernous original in Pyongyang, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The official North Korean news agency reported that leader Kim Jong Il himself provided “on-site guidance” when the restaurant added a 60,000-square-foot extension.

The foreign branches do have their advantages, however: Unlike the average North Korean, I did not have to endure a lengthy waiting list to purchase a ticket from my work unit to get in.

If any readers can find this restaurant on Google Earth, please let me know.

Read the full story here:
Dubai Restaurant Offers A Taste Of North Korea
Peter Kenyon


3 Responses to “DPRK restaurant in Dubai”

  1. Stephan says:

    According to: http://twtvite.com/nkdxb

    Okryu-Gwan Restaurant is in the new Business Village next to the Clock Tower Roundabout in Deira, close to the Star Boutique Hotel and Copthorne Hotel.

    Google Maps: http://goo.gl/Ihsg2

  2. North Korean restaurant in Dubai?