North Korea has moved to deny reports its leader Kim Jong-un is planning to open a restaurant in Scotland.
The dictator presides over a chain of restaurants known as “Pyongyang”, with international branches already including Amsterdam, and a number of North Korea experts had speculated that Scotland would be a natural target for expansion.
Kim was reported to have taken a keen interest in Scottish affairs during the referendum debate in September, when officials claimed he felt a vote for independence “would be a very positive thing”.
It has also been noted that Scotch whisky is a favourite tipple among the North Korean elite, while tourists can be asked to make gifts of the drink to tour guides and hosts instead of cash.
Michael Madden, editor of the North Korea Leadership Watch blog, told the Scotsman it “would not surprise me at all if they opted to open a restaurant in Scotland”, while the UK-Korea Institute’s Jenny Town told the Mirror Kim would support “any country struggling for independence and legitimacy”.
But speaking to The Independent, an official at the North Korean embassy said of the reports: “It’s a nonsense.” He declined to comment further.
Mr Madden said the Pyongyang restaurants have been around for about 10 years, and that a significant proportion of their takings is funnelled back to government coffers.
He said they were one of the very few ways the majority of people can experience North Korean culture without making a trip to the secretive state. “But they tailor the menus to suit,” he added. “Customers in Western Europe won’t get a plateful of dog!”
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