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N. Korea closes restaurant in Malaysia amid toughened sanctions

2017/05/15 16:35

SEOUL, May 15 (Yonhap) -- The only North Korean restaurant in Malaysia has recently closed in the wake of the shocking murder of the leader's brother in March and toughened international sanctions over its weapons programs, sources said Monday.

The North has withdrawn its workers from the restaurant located in Kuala Lumpur and the closure has to do with a drop in customers and revenue, the sources told Yonhap News Agency.

It is one of around 10 North Korean restaurants in Southeast Asia, which are known as sources of hard currency for the Kim Jong-un regime. The North is suspected of using the money to bankroll its nuclear and missile programs.

"The restaurant, the only one that the North has been operating in Malaysia, recently went out of business, and the North seemed to have withdrawn its workers," a source said on condition of anonymity.

The latest closure seems to be the result of the ramped-up sanctions against the North and increased awareness that the money earned there has ended up in the hands of its rulers, another source said.

It also comes after North was at odds with Malaysia after Pyongyang was suspected of masterminding the murder of the North Korean leader's half brother, Kim Jong-nam, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.

Eight North Koreans were named suspects in the case, though North Korea has denied any involvement and claimed that Malaysia colluded with South Korea on the investigation into the case.

kokobj@yna.co.kr

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