I Ate Dinner at Pyongyang’s Cambodian Outpost
Monivong Boulevard is a bustling thoroughfare in the heart of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. So it’d be easy to wander by the low-profile restaurant that, at first glance, resembles any other Khmer food joint—if it weren’t for the billboard revealing that this restaurant has ties to the most repressive regime in the world. Welcome to “Pyongyang,” a little piece of North Korea in Cambodia.
It’s actually one of a dozen or more Pyongyang restaurants located all over Southeast Asia, all of which are owned and operated by the North Korean regime. Bona fide North Koreans staff the restaurants, which are widely believed to be laundering money and ferrying intelligence back to Kim Jong-un. TripAdvisor gives the one in Phnom Penh 3.5 stars.
I make a reservation for 7 PM and am sure to arrive on time —I imagine tardiness is frowned upon by totalitarians. Either despite or because of the fact that the restaurant is run by a dictatorship, the place is punishingly well-lit thanks to a ceiling covered in compact fluorescent bulbs. Maybe this is to help ensure no sneaky Westerners violate the ban on snapping photos.
Omg I had no idea that the ‘Pyeongyang Restaurant’ I saw in Cambodia was an actual North Korean restaurant.