SEOUL (Reuters) – The owner of a North Korea-themed pub being renovated in South Korea took down a North Korean flag and portraits of the isolated country’s late leaders on Monday after complaints from neighbors who feared he was violating a Cold War-era law.
A North Korean flag and images of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the late grandfather and father of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, were hung on the outside wall of the pub in the South Korean capital, Seoul, media showed.
But residents of the neighborhood complained saying the pub may have violated South Korea’s National Security Act, a 1948 law banning the “praising, inciting or propagating the activities” of enemies, a city official said.
“The flag and photos were taken down as there was controversy,” Song In-soo, an official from the Mapo district office, told Reuters.
Song said the case has been referred to police. They declined to comment.
North and South Korea have been fierce rivals since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. They remain technically at war.
Numerous South Koreans have run afoul of the security law over the decades, most accused of spying for North Korea, or abetting it in some way.
But the atmosphere has become more relaxed in recent years, especially since President Moon Jae-in came to power in 2017 championing efforts to improve ties with the North.
Broadcaster KBS reported that the owner of the pub wanted to “change the atmosphere” after business slumped and had not intend to glorify North Korea.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Robert Birsel