North Korean-themed restaurant in Seoul removes images of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il after backlash

A restaurateur in South Korea has “voluntarily” removed images of late North Korean leaders – along with a North Korea flag – from the exterior of the business following backlash on social media.

The Pyongyang Pub, which is still under construction in Seoul’s Hongdae region, was allegedly using imagery of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to drum up publicity and interest in the yet-to-be-opened restaurant, according to police who spoke with the owner, the Associated Press reports.

The as-yet unopened restaurant was using the imagery to drum up publicity and interest, according to police.

The as-yet unopened restaurant was using the imagery to drum up publicity and interest, according to police. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

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The outside of the restaurant also features signs with slogans that are reportedly meant to satirize North Korean propaganda, including one reading, “More booze to comrades” and another that says, “Let’s bring about a great revolution in the development of side dishes.”

Those signs were still hanging as of Monday morning, the AP reported. It is unclear if they, too, were coming down.

The outside of the restaurant also features signs with slogans that are reportedly meant to satirize North Korean propaganda, including one reading, “More booze to comrades” and another that says, “Let’s bring about a great revolution in the development of side dishes.”

The outside of the restaurant also features signs with slogans that are reportedly meant to satirize North Korean propaganda, including one reading, “More booze to comrades” and another that says, “Let’s bring about a great revolution in the development of side dishes.” (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

In addition to earning the ire of some on social media, the restaurant’s owner may be facing charges for violating South Korea’s National Security Act, which prohibits the display of “anti-government” materials, the South China Morning Post reported. The country’s National Security Law has been in place since 1948; those who violate may be punished with prison sentences of up to seven years.

Serving North Korean-style cuisine, however, is perfectly legal in South Korea. Many are currently in operation within Seoul, but, unlike the Pyongyang Pub, they don’t brandish portraits of North Korean leaders.

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Opposition to the restaurant on Korean social media erupted over the weekend, with one user calling the management “pathetic” for “featuring portraits of war criminals and dictators,” per the South China Morning Post. Still, others who spoke with The Associated Press said they feel the establishment will survive the early setback.

In addition to earning the ire of some on social media, the restaurant’s owner may now be facing charges for violating South Korea’s National Security Act, which prohibits the display of “anti-government” materials.

In addition to earning the ire of some on social media, the restaurant’s owner may now be facing charges for violating South Korea’s National Security Act, which prohibits the display of “anti-government” materials. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

"I think it is too early to do this kind of thing,” one local said. “But once this place opens for business I would come here purely out of curiosity.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.