After the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a sanctions resolution on Sept. 12, 2017, over North Korea's sixth nuclear test, the Beijing government ordered the closure of all North Korean businesses, including restaurants, on Chinese soil within 120 days.
North Korean restaurants in China and other countries are seen as a key source of foreign currency revenue for the regime of leader Kim Jong-un.
Approximately 100 North Korean restaurants are operating across China, though the exact number is not available.
"The presence of North Korean restaurants has been particularly heavy in three northeastern provinces -- Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang. In the face of Beijing's hardline stance, many of them are likely to go out of business. Pressure is also rising against the extension of visas for North Korean workers," said a source in the Chinese-North Korean border area.
"Late last year, the municipality of Shenyang of Liaoning Province was known to have asked North Korean restaurants in the city's 'Korean Town' area to close in 50 days. The restaurants will likely shut down if its employees fail to renew their visas," said the source.
Another source said that despite the closure order, North Korean restaurants appear to be searching for ways to survive.
"North Korean restaurants are mulling over various survival methods. In most cases, they may attempt to change the registered ownership to Chinese or ethnic Koreans, while taking advantage of workers with longer visa duration," the source said.
In fact, many North Korean restaurants in Chinese cities have already changed their ownership structures to joint ventures with Chinese partners.
"In the first week of the new year, North Korean restaurants were seen brightly lit and accepting customers until late at night. It remains to be seen whether they will actually go out of business," said a Korean resident in Shenyang.