“On February 21, Kim Jong-il ordered the Department of People’s Security to shut down all “decadent places of entertainment”. PC rooms and poolrooms are the hotbed of non-socialism and for-profit businesses in Pyongyang and Shinuiju, and this order strictly prevents people from frequenting them,” said a North Korean source.
Business at all PC and pool rooms in Pyongyang have been suspended, and according to the reporter, businessmen and those providing “services”, young women in their 20’s and 30’s involved in prostitution, are complaining.
The source also said that the most profitable businesses in North Korea are driving a taxi, running a PC room or operating a poolroom. However, the Party’s recent restriction on poolrooms has caused great confusion and the billiards industry has suffered huge losses.
Billiard businesses are inherently risky in North Korea because it requires the Party’s permission to operate. Many still enter the business because it is very lucrative. Investments in poolrooms can be recouped in just one year or less.
One poolroom owner in Pyongyang had invested $25,000 US since December, 2010, when the Party eased restrictions on billiards. He lamented the latest order, saying, “This makes me so sick. I spent $10,000 US of my own money and took out a loan for $15,000 US, at interest rate of 20%, to open my poolroom. If I have to shut down for more than six months, I will lose everything. What a dirty world! I can’t even make a living anymore.”
However, according to the source, exceptions are being made for foreign visitors. Billiard rooms are open at hotels that cater to foreign visitors: Daedonggang Hotel, and Korea Hotel in Pyongyang. In Bingsangkwan, an ice-skating rink and an International Communication Center also are open, but only for foreign visitors.
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