North Korean Restaurants Abroad

I was helping my students with their class presentation for next week on identity and I came across this NYT article on North Korean restaurants in Cambodia.

Read the full story and make sure you check out the photos: Where Koreans go to Reunify

I instantly remembered my trip to Beijing with my dad in the winter of 2005 when we went to one of the famous North Korean restaurants. We were told that the women had been hand selected by the government to represent the country and that most of the income from the restaurant went directly back to North Korea.

I remember looking at the glossy photos of various dishes on the menu and recognized most of the dishes. We ordered pheasant dumplings and ate while a North Korean waitress sang for us.

It wasn’t quite like this clip but it gives you a sense of what type of performance goes on at these restaurants:

The song that she chose to sing was a song about reunification that I had learned in every music class since the age of six.

The song had an eerie effect. It was the first time I actually felt an intimate connection with the North.

Of the same language, physical traits, and culture. Yet, the underlying message of the reunification song was completely different.


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