March 22 (UPI) — A North Korean-owned hostel in Berlin permanently closed in 2020, according to a Japanese press report.
Kyodo News reported Sunday that City Hostel was shuttered last year after a Berlin court rejected the hostel’s final appeal against a shutdown. The report cited sources at Berlin’s Mitte District.
The decision in May 2020 from a Berlin administrative court came after it rejected a lawsuit from unidentified operators of the hostel. The operators claimed they had not paid rent to the North Korean Embassy since April 2017, according to Deutsche Welle last year.
The North Korean government collected rent from the operators. Under a contract signed in 2016, the building was leased to the hostel for about $45,000 per month.
The leasing contract ran afoul of international law after the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2321 in November 2016 — economic sanctions enacted in response to North Korea’s fifth nuclear test.
Pyongyang frequently uses its embassies to earn foreign currency. The money is believed to be used to finance the regime’s nuclear weapons program and maintain the country’s dictatorship.
Some of North Korea’s embassies abroad have closed in recent years due to financial hardship. More recently, the North Korean Embassy in Malaysia was permanently closed after a diplomatic barb between the two countries.
Earlier this month, Malaysia agreed to the extradition of a North Korean man to the United States. The move has led to a severing of diplomatic ties and the departure of embassy staff, according to Yonhap on Sunday.
The Malaysia-based staff and family members, about 33 people, left the compound Sunday on a charter bus. The group left the country on a plane bound for Shanghai in the afternoon, the report said.
The United States has charged Mun Chol Myong with money laundering. Mun’s extradition is the first extradition of a North Korean national to the United States.