In bad taste? North Korean-themed restaurant in Seoul removes Kim images

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Empty frames adorn the restaurant’s exterior wall after the removal of the signs with the portrait of North Korean leaders and the image of a North Korean flag. (AP)
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A letters reading Pyongyang, center, is seen at the North Korea-themed restaurant under construction in Seoul on Monday, September 16, 2019. (AP)
Updated 16 September 2019

In bad taste? North Korean-themed restaurant in Seoul removes Kim images

  • North Korea-themed decorations were intended to attract attention and make the restaurant more profitable
  • The restaurant’s exterior still has socialist-style propaganda paintings with parodies of North Korean slogans

SEOUL: You can sell North Korean food in South Korea. But you’re likely to get into trouble if you decorate your restaurant with pictures seen as praising North Korea.
Authorities say the owner of a restaurant under construction in Seoul “voluntarily” removed signs with images of North Korean leaders and the North Korean flag from the restaurant’s exterior on Monday, after they were criticized on social media over the weekend.
Police quoted the owner as saying the North Korea-themed decorations were intended to attract attention and make the restaurant more profitable.
Police said they are looking at the possibility that the owner violated South Korea’s security law, under which praising North Korea can be punished by up to seven years in prison.
Full enforcement of the National Security Law has been rare in recent years as relations with North Korea have improved greatly since the Cold War era. In the past, South Korean dictators often used the security law to imprison and torture dissidents until the country achieved democracy in the late 1980s.
Many restaurants in South Korea sell North Korean-style cold noodles, dumplings and other food. But none is believed to have portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the late grandfather and father of current leader Kim Jong Un, or a North Korean flag.
Despite the removal of the images, the restaurant’s exterior still has socialist-style propaganda paintings with parodies of North Korean slogans such as “More booze to comrades” or “Let’s bring about a great revolution in the development of side dishes.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the owner would remove those decorations as well. The owner hasn’t expressed any intention of changing the restaurant’s concept, according to a Seoul police officer who requested anonymity, citing department rules.
The restaurant is being built in Seoul’s Hongdae neighborhood, a bustling area known for fancy bars and nightclubs.
Both police and local officials refused to reveal details about the owner, citing privacy concerns.
During a visit to the site on Monday, some residents expressed opposition to the restaurant, while others said they were curious about what it would be like once it opens.
“I think it is too early to do this kind of thing (displaying portraits or the North Korean flag). But once this place opens for business I would come here purely out of curiosity,” said Park So-hyun, a company employee.
Another citizen, Oh Sang-yeop, said, “I see they have taken down the portraits and flag, so I think it will be OK.”


Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

Updated 29 May 2020

Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

  • Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones
  • India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday,

NEW DELHI: Monkeys mobbed an Indian health worker and made off with coronavirus test blood samples, spreading fears that the stealing simians could spread the pandemic in the local area.
Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones.
After making off with the three samples earlier this week in Meerut, near the capital New Delhi, the monkeys scampered up nearby trees and one then tried to chew its plunder.
The sample boxes were later recovered and had not been damaged, Meerut Medical college superintendent Dheeraj Raj said on Friday, after footage of the encounter went viral on social media.
“They were still intact and we don’t think there is any risk of contamination or spread,” Raj said.
He added that the three people whose samples were stolen were retested for the virus.
Coronavirus has been detected in animals, though there is no confirmation that the disease can then be passed on to humans.
India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday, with 175 new fatalities in 24 hours taking the total to 4,706, according to official data.
India, home to some of the world’s most packed cities and a creaking health care system, is emerging as a new hotspot with record jumps in new cases in recent days.
In many rural areas, farmers lose crops to monkey populations and have demanded local governments’ intervention to check their populations.
City authorities in New Delhi have famously used long-tailed langur monkeys to fight and scare away smaller primates from around the Indian Parliament.