Nepal bans North Korean investments

North Korea-run Ne-Koryo Hospital

North Korea-run Ne-Koryo Hospital

By Kuber Chalise
Contributor to AsiaN from Nepal

Kathmandu: Nepal has banned North Korean investment in the Himalayan country and the Department of Industry (DoI) asked the North Koreans to close their businesses by the end of October in view of the UN Security Council Resolution against Pyongyang.

“The Department of Industry has asked nine companies with North Korean investment in Nepal to close their operations and take back their investment after the liquidation of their companies by October end,” Department of Industry Director Prem Luintel said.

On August 9, the Department of Industry has written a letter to one of the restaurants – Hiamalayan Soju Restaurnet Pvt Ltd – run by North Korean, to close the business as according to the discussion with the business in the presence of North Korean Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Kim Jong.

“The department had held discussion with the investors from North Korea in presence of North Korean Embassy DCM Kim Jong to close all the businesses run by them by August 15,” the letter reads, adding that the agreement has not been implemented even after repeated telephone calls.

“After repeated discussions with the embassy official and North Korean businesses, the department has given them the final deadline of October-end to shut down their enterprises and repatriate their existing investment,” Luitel said.

“Nepal government was forced to issue an ultimatum as they did not walk their talk. The government had extended visas of foreign workers employed in the North Korean companies up to October 31 only.”

Currently, there are nine business enterprises being run by North Korean nationals in Nepal, of which two are software companies, one is a hospital and the remaining are restaurants.

North Korean nationals are running Ne-Koryo Hospital in Tanahun district and Himal Chilbo Technical Solutions in Lalitpur district, Hotel Re Min and Restaurant, Pyongyang Akugyan Nepal, Pyongyang Arirang Restaurant, Yong Bong Chand IT Company, Botonggang Restaurant and Bar, Himalayan Soje Restaurant and Minas Restaurant and Bar in Kathmandu district.

Some North Korean nationals have recently registered some more businesses and were preparing to start operation soon.

“The North Korean investors have made a total investment of Rs 186.5 million in Nepal till date,” according to the Department of Industry data. Since the investment is not huge, it will not have any impact on Nepali economy, according to the Ministry of Finance sources.

The United States on June 15 expressed concern with Nepal government over the growing business activities of North Koreans in Nepal.

Special US envoy for North Korea Mark Lambert, who was on a three-day visit to Nepal, had appealed to the lawmakers, senior government officials and ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) co-chair and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal not to entertain them in Nepal as Nepal is also a member of the UN which has imposed sanction on North Korea.

“Nepal should respect the decision taken by the UN to impose sanctions on the country,” Lambert was reported as saying.

Immediately after Lambert July 1 visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs forwarded the report of UN Resolution 2397 related to North Korean sanctions to the Department of Industry asking it to take appropriate decisions on the matter.

Nepal became a member country of the UN in 1955. The UN has imposed a number of sanctions on North Korea after the country started developing nuclear weapons, in violation of the UN charter.

UN Resolution 2397 was passed on December 2017 after the launch of intercontinental ballistic missile.

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