Germany to close down tourist hostel within North Korea's Berlin embassy

Germany to close down tourist hostel within North Korea's Berlin embassy
By Pierre Bertrand
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The German government says it plans to close down a tourist hostel in Berlin after it was revealed it is within the grounds of North Korea's embassy.


The German government this week says it has plans to close down a tourist hostel in Berlin after it was revealed it is located within the grounds of North Korea’s embassy and has been leased in violation of UN rules.

Located within walking distance of the Brandenburg Gate, Potzdamer Platz and Checkpoint Charlie, City Hostel Berlin has been a tourist hotspot for many years, but public broadcasters in Germany revealed the hostel was to be closed down as the German government moves to tighten economic sanctions on the reclusive Asian nation.

Among Germany’s plans is to prevent North Korea from leasing properties belonging to its embassy within the Germany capital, according to Germany’s Foreign Ministry.

“We must increase pressure to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table,” said Foreign Ministry State Secretary Markus Ederer in a statement to Reuters. “That means we must consistently implement sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the European Union.”

According to German media reports from Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and NDR and WDR broadcasters, the embassy has leased the hostel since 2004 and has collected five-digit suns in rent.

The embassy is thought to collect as a much as €38,000 a month from the hostel, which experts believe North Korea could use to fund the operations of the embassy and help finance its weapons programs.

“In that regard, it is particularly important that we do even more to dry up the financial resources used to fund the nuclear programme,” said Ederer. “The German government is in complete agreement and the responsible authorities will now take the necessary steps.”

Back when East and West Germany remained divided, the building which comprises the hostel used to be part of the North Korean embassy.

It used to house as many as 100 North Korean diplomats, but today, that number has dropped to roughly 10. It was why part of the structure was converted into a hostel.

The UN in 2016 explicitly banned North Korea from leasing its properties to generate revenue in November 2016.

The resolution stated that all “member countries shall prohibit North Korea to use real estate that it owns or leases for other than diplomatic or consular activities.”

The ban followed the country’s fifth nuclear test which has ramped up tensions in the region and prompted the deployment of a US Navy taskforce to the peninsula and the instalment of an anti-missile defence system in South Korea.

The German government says it will put fines on the hostel operator if it refuses to close down the hostel. The embassy also leases a convention centre which will also be subject to the government’s enforced ban.

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