While there are travel restrictions in place for Americans looking to experience North Korea, there's a new alternative for travelers wanting to experience Korean cuisine: a new restaurant, Pyongyang, which opened this week in Amsterdam.
Named after the country's capital, the restaurant brings North Korea to the diner with a Pyongyang-trained chef, waitresses dressed in North Korean attire, and pictures of North Korean soldiers. (Bonus points for the waitreses singing a national anthem into a karaoke machine.) The motive behind the restaurant, owner Remco van Daal told the Agence France-Presse, has nothing to do with the country's political affiliations. He said, "You can think what you want about North Korea... But we want to help patrons discover the people and the country. It has nothing to do with politics."
Tell that to the Asian chain of restaurants under the same name, which Agence France-Presse says has been linked to the North Korean government and money-laundering. Van Daal insists the restaurant has no tie to the North Korean government; the financing came from his partner, who owns a hotel. Van Daal is said to have founded the Foundation DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea) in 2009 to improve relations between the Netherlands and North Korea. One report from Business Insider said the opening had a "whiff of officialness," as the Dutch ambassador to North Korea came to dine.
So what does one eat at a North Korean restaurant? On the menu at Pyongyang: a nine-course menu with roasted oysters with smoked mackerel, strawberries, seaweed, and traditional Korean barbecue. We think we'll take our Korean mandu dumplings and japchae at home.