33 North Koreans resident in Nepal left the country prior to October 31 upon orders from the government, the country said in a report on its implementation of international sanctions to the UN this week, amid a broader crackdown on DPRK-linked businesses and individuals.
In a letter dated November 6 and aimed at detailing the country’s efforts in enforcing UN resolutions against the DPRK, the Nepalese government reported that visas issued to North Koreans living in the country had expired at the end of last month.
“As ordered by the immigration authority of Nepal, 33 nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had already left the territory of Nepal as at 31 October 2019,” the letter, the first of its kind to be submitted by the country, said.
“Accordingly, those still living in Nepal illegally would be subject to prosecution under the country’s immigration laws.”
In addition, it continued, the country’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies on August 15 notified businesses “in which nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had invested” to begin closing down operations.
“The investors in and the authorized representatives of the business entities in which nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had invested were notified with a view to ensuring that all the business transactions pertaining to their industries ceased before 31 October,” the letter added.
International sanctions on North Korea currently prohibit the operation of joint ventures with DPRK entities, and also require member states to ensure that no North Korean nationals are earning money in their territories by December 22 this year.
Nepal has for years been a hub for DPRK overseas workers, with Pyongyang operating a chain of restaurants and a number of other illicit businesses.
The two countries also continue to enjoy close relations, with recently-appointed DPRK ambassador to Nepal Jo Yong Man having in February reportedly expressed an interest in investing in Nepal’s hydroelectric and agriculture industries.
Those ties also extend to party-to-party relations — the DPRK’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) frequently conducts exchanges and meetings with officials from Nepal’s ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) — and top Nepalese officials have frequently been reported to be “reluctant” to enforce UN sanctions.
But the country does now appear to be taking some steps to curb DPRK-linked money-making activities in its territory.
This week’s report, in particular, corroborates claims by local outlet Khabarhub last month that the country had ordered North Korean investors operating there to “shut down their businesses and take back investments.”
Among these investments, the outlet said, were DPRK-run “restaurants, hospitals, and software companies.”
Much of these steps may be driven by pressure from the U.S.: a visit to the country by special envoy for North Korea Mark Lambert back in June saw the diplomat express concerns about the continued presence of DPRK-linked businesses in the country.
Featured image: Sharada Prasad CS