Cambodia kicked out all North Korean businesses, workers

Cambodia’s newest museum opens – funded by North Korea
The North Korean embassy in Phnom Penh © Arno Maierbrugger

Cambodia “shut down all” North Korean businesses and bank accounts and kicked out all workers as it complied with UN Security Council resolutions by the end of 2019, the country claimed in its first implementation report to the UN regarding sanctions enforcement efforts.

The report, publicly released on the website of the UN 1718 Sanctions Committee on February 13, listed 115 North Korean staff working in Phnom Penh and in Siem Reap, 12 companies, eight restaurants and the famous Angkor Panorama Museum as casualties of sanctions requirements in 2019 alone. North Korean workers would also not receive visa extensions anymore.

“As a responsible member of the United Nations, Cambodia has completely fulfilled its international obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and has faithfully implemented the resolutions of the Security Council on sanctions relating to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the report stated.

It also said that businesses and bank accounts related to embassy staff have been shut down and that “the National Bank of Cambodia has confirmed that there are no bank accounts, funds, financial assets or economic resources established or owned by individuals and entities in Cambodia.”

Long history of friendly relations

The move comes as quite a surprise as both countries have long enjoyed a close and friendly relationship. An exchange of high-level delegations, one led by North Korea’s vice foreign minister Ri Kil Song to Phnom Penh and one by Cambodia’s ruling party to Pyongyang, even took place in November last year just before most of the late-2019 compliance efforts were carried out.

In congratulatory letters between either the two sides’ heads of state or other top officials and in other high-level visits in recent years, the two have at least paid lip service to enhancing bilateral relations in the future.

But as a Cambodian foreign ministry spokesperson said after Ri Kil Song’s visit last November, while the country’s diplomatic ties with North Korea are strong, their trade relations remain modest.

The North Korean embassy in Phnom Penh © Arno Maierbrugger Cambodia “shut down all” North Korean businesses and bank accounts and kicked out all workers as it complied with UN Security Council resolutions by the end of 2019, the country claimed in its first implementation report to the UN regarding sanctions enforcement efforts. The report, publicly released on the website of the UN 1718 Sanctions Committee on February 13, listed 115 North Korean staff working in Phnom Penh and in Siem Reap, 12 companies, eight restaurants and the famous Angkor Panorama Museum as casualties of sanctions requirements in 2019 alone....

Cambodia’s newest museum opens – funded by North Korea
The North Korean embassy in Phnom Penh © Arno Maierbrugger

Cambodia “shut down all” North Korean businesses and bank accounts and kicked out all workers as it complied with UN Security Council resolutions by the end of 2019, the country claimed in its first implementation report to the UN regarding sanctions enforcement efforts.

The report, publicly released on the website of the UN 1718 Sanctions Committee on February 13, listed 115 North Korean staff working in Phnom Penh and in Siem Reap, 12 companies, eight restaurants and the famous Angkor Panorama Museum as casualties of sanctions requirements in 2019 alone. North Korean workers would also not receive visa extensions anymore.

“As a responsible member of the United Nations, Cambodia has completely fulfilled its international obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and has faithfully implemented the resolutions of the Security Council on sanctions relating to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the report stated.

It also said that businesses and bank accounts related to embassy staff have been shut down and that “the National Bank of Cambodia has confirmed that there are no bank accounts, funds, financial assets or economic resources established or owned by individuals and entities in Cambodia.”

Long history of friendly relations

The move comes as quite a surprise as both countries have long enjoyed a close and friendly relationship. An exchange of high-level delegations, one led by North Korea’s vice foreign minister Ri Kil Song to Phnom Penh and one by Cambodia’s ruling party to Pyongyang, even took place in November last year just before most of the late-2019 compliance efforts were carried out.

In congratulatory letters between either the two sides’ heads of state or other top officials and in other high-level visits in recent years, the two have at least paid lip service to enhancing bilateral relations in the future.

But as a Cambodian foreign ministry spokesperson said after Ri Kil Song’s visit last November, while the country’s diplomatic ties with North Korea are strong, their trade relations remain modest.

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