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North Korea is known for a lot of things. Like banning 'capitalist' blue jeans,
having an entire fake town built just in the hopes that South Korea gets jealous and haircuts
so fresh it's actually illegal not to have them. One thing you might not know about is
it's global (kinda) restaurant chain.
Let's start from the basics, this is Korea, this Japan, and this is a town in China called
Longdong, and here are the other five places in China also called Longdong, alright we
get it. With that cleared up, I should tell you that in 1910 Japan annexed Korea. Then
after the second world war, which I heard didn't go too well for Japan, the US and
USSR divided up Korea, wait this story sounds familiar.
As commonly occurred in these times, the two nations played a little bit of communist capitalist
hockey cokey, they went in, out, in, out, shake it all about. And eventually a fragile
truce was achieved along the 38th parallel. And there the border has stayed until the
current day. South Korea to the south and, you're never going to guess this, North
Korea to the north (locally known as Best Korea). Technically, the two countries are
still at war so when I say fragile I mean fragile like my ego.
South Korea has become a technological hub, holding the title for highest internet speeds
and best 4G coverage. While North Korea turned out pretty different, it does have the world's
largest stadium but also the title of most corrupt and least democratic state, so you
know, swings and roundabouts.
In an attempt to keep the North Korean people loyal to their all loving, actually flying,
never pooping supreme leader, there is a strict ban on almost anything with Western influence
in the country. No golden arches, the people are told that Kim Jong-Il actually invented
the burger, no Hollywood, there are some awesome North Korean rip offs of Western films, and
no gregorian calendar. Fun fact in North Korea the year is actually only 108.
Now they don't like culture coming in and they generally frown upon any of the citizens
leaving the country. There are a few exceptions to this rule. The first is diplomatic envoys
like ambassadors, business people and of course Kim Jung-Un himself, who was apparently a
child prodigy able to drive a car at the age of three. The next exception would be for
athletes. Now of all sports, which do you think North Korea has an Olympic medal in.
What if I told you one of them was volleyball.
Another group of people allowed to leave the country are workers specially picked by the
government. Many of these people work on general labour sites, like building the stadiums for
the Qatar World Cup, as if it didn't already have enough controversy. But the ones we want
to focus on are the ones that work in the government owned restaurant chain that has
spread to a dozen countries with at least 130 locations in total. The franchise is fairly
uncreatively named Pyongyang after the countries capital.
As you can see most of these locations are fairly local to their mothership. But for
a brief period in 2012 there was also one in all the way in Amsterdam. There were also
rumours that there was plans to open a location in Scotland, apparently because Kim took a
shining to the country after it campaigned for independence and because he has a love
of whiskey. And, to be fair, he wouldn't be the first controversial world leader to
harbour an obsession with the country.
So, for the time being it looks like you'll have to travel all the way to Asia to experience
these institutions. They're reportedly most commonly visited by South Korean tourists
curious to see what their Northern counterparts eat. However, back in 2016 the South Korean
government politely asked it's citizens to stop visiting the restaurant because they
were basically funneling 10 million dollars back to a regime that has ambitions to wipe
out the entire South. Based on a US average, that 10 million is worth around 5 and a half
nuclear bombs.
Like I was saying, the people that work in these restaurants are often hand selected
by the government, even often being direct relatives of people high in the North Korean
establishment. You'll find yourself served by attractive young Korean women who perform
dances and do karaoke, which sounds, just awful. And although McDoanlds doesn't exist
in their homeland something tells me they've been influenced by it a little.
Despite the hand selection, hours of screening for political loyalty and the fact the workers
live on site reportedly watched by security guards, there have been several cases where
workers have defected. Some of the locations have been forced to temporarily close because
of defections, including one in 2016 where thirteen of it's staff successfully made
it to South Korea to claim asylum.
So, if you just so happen to be in the area and have a somewhat questionable moral compass,
what can you expect to be served at one of these restaurants? The menu boasts mostly
traditional North Korean cuisine including cold noodles, kimchi and cuttlefish. But there
are some slightly more obscure items on offer, from ginseng wine to dog meat soup. Or if
you're feeling particularly adventurous you could try the nameless product that is
said to increase sexual virility made from an unidentified part
of a bear.
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North Korea's International Restaurant Chain

40 分類 收藏
Seina 發佈於 2020 年 7 月 13 日
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