North Korea is seeking foreign investment for a street of new restaurants providing North Korean dishes near the Mt. Kumgang resort.
The investment project will be implemented in accordance with a broader plan for developing “Special District for International Tour of Mount Kumgang,” and the restaurants will “serve the North’s excellent national cuisine for domestic and foreign tourists who visited Mount Kumgang.”
A website for the project, operated by the “Chosun Mt. Kumgang International Travel Agency” corporation, uploaded the investment plan on July 6, and the project is reportedly connected to the Kumgangsan Special Zone for International Tourism Development Corporation.
The group plans to construct eight different restaurants providing specialties from Pyongyang and Kaesong cities, as well as Ryanggang, Hamgyong, Pyongan, Jagang, Hwanghae, and Kangwon provinces.
The eight restaurants are to have a seating capacity of between 140 to 150, and will be located in Onjong-ri in Kosong County, Kangwon Province.
“The Chosun (DPRK) Restaurant Street is composed of eight buildings with one or two-story, Chosun-style,” according to the investment proposal.
“The exterior wall of the buildings are designed to match the scenery of Mount Kumgang and to have distinct features.”
The investment guide went into detail on the design of the proposed buildings, saying they were to be fitted with green traditional Korean-style gable roofs “to give the impression of being in nature.”
“As the total building area is 3000m2 and the total floor area is 6000m2 , [the restaurants] serve the specialty of each province in our country for tourists.”
The proposal said that “the feasibility” of the investment plans and their profitability “are being investigated.”
Entities can invest in two ways: through an independent foreign-owned company or in an equity joint venture.
The planned period of construction is one year, and the restaurants are planned to be in operation for between 10 and 20 years.
The DPRK has long tried to promote international tourism to the Mount Kumgang area. Hyundai Asan, a South Korean company, ran the resort for over a decade until July 2008, when Seoul suspended the program after a South Korean tourist was killed by a soldier.
The DPRK Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly adopted the “Law on Special Zone for International Tour for Mt. Kumgang” on May 31, 2011.
The law allows foreign investors and South Koreans to invest and set up facilities in the area, including “restaurants, casinos, golf courses, nightclubs and medical treatment and amusement halls,” according to a report carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 2, 2011.
Since the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly adopted a decree setting up the Wonsan-Mt.Kumgang international tourist zone on June 11 2014, Pyongyang has scrambled to develop the zone.
The “2015 Seminar on Investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone” was held in Mount Kumgang on May 27 in 2015.
Yun Yong Sok, chairman of the Committee for the Promotion of the Development of Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone, said: “the DPRK government worked out a long-term master plan for developing the tourist zone in a brief span of time and is in the process of rounding off detailed plans for different areas.”
KCNA said the government has taken measures to provide business incentives, including offering favorable projects or discount land rent, to investors who “will agree upon the terms of advanced investment and deferred compensation or the method of comprehensive development of land not later than 2017,” KCNA reported on July 23 in 2015.
The restaurant development initiative is one of several recent attempts to woo foreign investors to North Korean tourism.
In March this year, the North promoted a new investment proposal for a line of new casino cruise ship routes linking Mount Kumgang to the Russian city of Vladivostok and Southeast Asia.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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