Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Germany to clamp down on North Korea's Berlin operations

Germany to clamp down on North Korea's Berlin operations

The German government said Wednesday that it was taking steps to prevent them being used to generate cash for the rogue state.

Both the hostel owner and the North Korean embassy in Berlin have been notified by authorities that the rental agreement violates worldwide law, but a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry declined to say when exactly the hostel will have to shut down.

The embassy has continued to operate while one building has since be turned into a low-priced hotel and another into a conference centre, according to German media reports.

Rented out since 2004, the property fetches Pyongyang some 38,000 euros per month in rent, public broadcaster ARD said. They may not be linked to North Korea as the hostel's website and social media accounts do not mention that the building is owned by the reclusive regime.

The hostel caters to young travelers, students and to tourists.

Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer cited a UN Security Council resolution that requires member states to only allow "North Korean foreign representations to carry out diplomatic and consular activities".

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting the ground jet test of newly developed high-thrust engine at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea.

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North Korea's United Kingdom embassy is based in a detached house on the busy North Circular Road near Ealing, west London. One 25-year old visitor from Argentina said she had no idea the building was owned by North Korea.

One group that does seem largely unaware of the North Korean connection is the backpackers who stay at Cityhostel, which TripAdvisor rates as two-star accommodations.

"Those of you who oppose N. Korea policies may not want to stay here", warned another.

The resolution, passed after the regime conducted a nuclear test, is created to cut off outside funding sources.

"We will increase the pressure to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table", said Markus Ederer, the state secretary of Germany's Federal Foreign Office.

"In that regard, it is particularly important that we do even more to dry up the financial resources used to fund the nuclear programme".

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