The story of the City Hotel in Berlin: a lesson for the Chilbosan Hotel in Shenyang

Media reported on Tuesday, that North Korea has been earning tens of thousands of euros due to leasing part of its Berlin embassy’s unused property to City Hostel Berlin. Shaefer reminded that under the Resolution of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of November 30, 2016, the foreign representative offices of North Korea can only undertake diplomatic and consular activities.

North Korea is a country which is definitly lacking of its own funds. What can a such country do, when it’s near bankrupt and in desperate need of foreign currency? It rents its buildings, that house its foreign embassies. North Korea is doing this part of business for example with its Warsaw embassy (Ryszard Petru, a former candidate to presidential elections rent a desk there) and Berlin embassy, which the last one has been turned partly into a hostel.

The Cityhostel Berlin opened on July in 2008 and has around 100 rooms covering two floors in one of the former embassy building.

The embassy was built in the 1970s on Glinkastrasse in the old East Berlin and in the actual center of Berlin and consists of two buildings. After the Cold War, staff numbers of each north Korean embassy  were cut. However in order to get some foreign currencies, one of the buildings has been rented out and turned into the Cityhostel Berlin. There are two buildings on the embassy site, separated by a fence. One houses the embassy, complete with a display case holding pictures of Kim, the North Korean leader. The other houses a center for psychotherapy and offices of the Federal Association for German Psychologists.

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The welcome desk (source: Nicolas Levi-nicolaslevi.wordpress.com)

The history of the building and Cityhostel Berlin’s location left  next to the North Korean embassy will probably be attractive to many. The hostel is definitely a place for Backpackers.  The price for a night in a dormitory is about 20 euros per person.

The owner of the hostel is a local Turkish businessman Yilmaz Celik. It is his first business with North Korean. Tourists are very fond of this hostel. Some South Korean People are sleeping here and are observing through windows people working in the North Korean embassy. One of them told me (I slept twice in this hotel), that he chose especially this hostel due to its background. There are a lot of tourists from Europe and US.

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The North Korean embassy in Berlin (source: Nicolas Levi – nicolaslevi.wordpress.com)

Can we expect that the money North Korea receives from renting out its embassies will be spend on improving the living conditions in North Korea ? The answer seems to be rather no. money will be rather used for the exorbitant way of life of Kim Jong Il and its family. Therefore this hotel should be sanctioned in spite of employing young germans at the reception desk. They will find another suitable job. Furthermore, I’m wondering what will happen to NK people who were related to the management of this touristical structure. I’m sure they will find another way to satisfy Kim Jong-un. In the same trend of sanctions, why not sanction all hotels belonging (at least partially) to North Koreans? For example what’s next with the Chilbosan hotel in Shenyang? Of course nothing, as it’s in China..

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