This is how your backpacking holiday could be funding North Korea

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When choosing a hostel to camp for the night, most backpackers might just browse through some TripAdvisor reviews, go for the most central location and cheapest price and think nothing more of it.

So spare a thought for some British tourists in Berlin, who discovered their night stay had been funding Kim Jong-Un’s regime in North Korea.

The City Hostel, in the German capital’s lively Mitte district, is located right next door to the North Korean Embassy.

However, the travellers discovered after checking in that the embassy is not just the hostel’s neighbour, but actually owns the whole property.


The hostel brings in about 38,000 euros a month in rent for Pyongyang.

British backpacker Alex Smith told English-language newspaper The Local:

We didn't realise we were funding North Korea. We're sorry. Very sorry.

Canadian traveller Alexandra Brosseau said:

We don't have a lot of money so we decided to go there, but if we had known, we wouldn't have come here. It should be written somewhere, like on reviews or something.

The German government announced last week that it would shut down the hostel because the site had been leased by Pyongyang in violation of UN rules.

Martin Schäfer, a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told the Local.

Cityhostel in Berlin constitutes neither a diplomatic nor consular activity of a North Korean foreign representation...Any kind of commercial activity on the site of the embassy or in relation to the embassy is prohibited.

Cityhostel's employees told the AFP they had been unaware of the North Korean link, but would not elaborate.

The hostel's management, a Berlin company registered as GBI, said in a statement that it "regrets having been taken hostage by international politics".

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