Govt bans North Korean investment in Nepal


September 16, 2019


Govt bans North Korean investment in Nepal

KATHMANDU: Government of Nepal has given a two-month ultimatum to North Koreans to shut down their businesses in Nepal and take back their investments. The government’s decision to ban North Korean investment in Nepal comes after the UN repeatedly raised the issue with the Nepal government thus pressurizing the latter to comply with the UN sanctions.

It should be noted that Nepal had earlier shown reluctance to rein in North Korean activities in the country despite pressure coming from the UN and the United States.

According to sources at the Department of Industry, the department through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked them to close or sell their business firms by the end of October and leave Nepal.

Khabarhub had carried out a series of stories on how North Koreans were misusing Nepal’s soil to make money. The North Koreans were operating restaurants, hospitals, and software companies in Nepal before Khabarhub exposed their illegal activities.

Director at the Department Prem Prasad Luitel said that North Koreans have been told to pull their investments from Nepal due to sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

He said the North Korean Embassy had been requested time and again to close down their businesses. According to him, a formal diktat was sent through the Foreign Ministry after the Embassy paid no heed.

According to Luitel, North Korea is currently operating nine businesses in Nepal.

He also added that the visa of North Korean nationals has not been extended. Despite regular reminders from the UN and the US, Nepal had earlier shown reluctance to shut-down illegal North Korean businesses.

Khabarhub had on September 4 carried a story about North Korean Embassy in Kathmandu lobbying to extend visa status of around 14 North Koreans staying and working illegally in Nepal even after the expiration of their visa dates.

The Embassy was making efforts to extend the visa of its nationals working at the Botonggang Restaurant and Bar P. Ltd (on the top floor of Rising Mall in Kathmandu) whose visas had expired on June 6, 2019.

The Nepal government was reluctant to extend the visa of these workers after the United Nations (UN) in August wrote a letter to the former to strictly execute the sanctions imposed on North Korea.

Nepal has now, however, shown its willingness to shut-down North Korean businesses coming under pressure after the issue of sanctions against North Korea has been raised repeatedly at the UN. Nepal had earlier shown reluctance to rein in North Korean activities in the country.

It should be noted that the UN repeatedly reminded Nepal to rein in North Korean activities in the Nepali soil, which has increased in recent times. In a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), this year, the UN had urged the Nepali government to stop all North Korean business in Nepal.

North Korea has already shut down three of its business following pressure from the UN and the US.

Meanwhile, the United States had also reminded the government of Nepal regarding the UN sanctions against North Korea and the international obligation of the Government of Nepal to follow UN resolutions.

With no signs of shutting down of North Koreans’ illegal activities in Nepal, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had written an official letter in last Falgun to Prime Minister K P Oli reminding him about his failure to take concrete actions against the illegal activities being carried out in Nepal despite the assurance given by Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali during his meeting with Pompeo last year.

Meanwhile, David J. Ranz, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, who visited Nepal in last Jestha and met Ram Bahadur Thapa, the Home Minister of Nepal had also drawn the attention of Home Minister Thapa regarding the illegal activities being carried by North Koreans in Nepal.

Home Minister Thapa in his clear message to David J. Ranz had mentioned that Nepal’s land will never be used against any country.

Likewise, Mark Lambert, Special Envoy sent by US Government, who visited Kathmandu in the last week of Jestha had an extensive discussion with a range of Nepali political leaders regarding North Korean illegal activities taking place right under the nose of the government of the Nepal Communist Party.

He, too, had a serious objection to Nepal’s land being used by North Korea against the US.

In a series of investigative reports in the recent past, Khabarhub had unearthed several illicit activities of North Koreans living illegally in Nepal.

After North Koreans began to take away a chunk of illegally earned Nepalese rupees to North Korea, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Chairman of the current ruling party of Nepal opened his eyes and refused to meet them despite repeated requests made to this effect.

It should also be noted that after the news published by Khabarhub about North Korean activities, including the cyber espionage in Nepal, thorough investigation kick-started following which many North Korean hackers fled from the places where they were living across different places of Nepal.

With noose of laws tightening over the North Koreans living in the country illegally, several Nepali citizens having a business and personal relationship with them deserted these North Koreans by excluding them from any future deals.

Restaurants registered in the name of North Koreans

According to the record at the Department of Industry, the Himalaya SoJe Restaurant has been registered in the names of Ju Ok Hwang and Il Hyang Kang September 5, 2018. Even though the registration record points out the location of this restaurant in Lazimpat, Kathmandu but the actual operation of the business is taking place in Sanepa.

The record kept with the government reveals that this restaurant would have a capacity to accommodate 100 customers at a time and would employ 23 staff (workers).

Foreign workers with the illegal status that too much less in number raise several questions over the power and function of the government as weak monitoring.

List of Registration

Hotel and restaurant registered in the name of Tong Min Ri registered on July 9, 2007. Location: Goldhunga of Kathmandu. Capacity: 16 beds, 32 seats.

Restaurant registered in the name of Young Ju Kim on July 22, 2007, with 200 seating capacity.

Botonggang Restaurant and Bar Pvt Ltd registered in the names of Hwang Un Ha, Sin Yong Im and Ri Chang Nam with a capacity of 150 seats on June 22, 2018.

Himalaya SoJe Restaurant Pvt Ltd registered in the names of Ju Ok Hwang and Il Hyang Kang on September 5, 2018, having a capacity of 100 seats.

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