North Korea Holds First “European Style” Beer Festival

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Pyongyang witnessed a weekend of western style celebrations despite the political situation of the country[edit]

August 17th, 2016

Laura Serra, CD News

On Friday 12th and Saturday 13th August, the North Korean beer festival was launched. Mainly created for locals of the capital city, it attracted more than 100 tourists who enjoyed musical performances on the riverside and a sampling event where customers were invited to guess and judge the beers they were drinking.

State broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV) showed waitresses in white and blue-coloured uniforms serving local beer drinkers and foreign tourists, who toasted together while enjoying snacks such as western bread, nuts, and indigenous chilli peppers.

KCTV also reported that the festival featured North Korea’s highest quality white rice and dark beers, and several kinds of beers produced by the Taedonggang Beer Factory, founded by the late leader Kim Jong II. The event also came as an attempt to show off the company’s beers and improve their competitiveness.

Some claimed the hosting of the event was somewhat controversial, given the increasing sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in the wake of Pyonyang’s fourth nuclear testing. On the other hand, the KCTV news reader asserted that “the Pyongyang Taedonggang beer festival shows our people’s lives filled with happiness and optimism, building up a people’s paradise and a highly civilized socialist country”. Participants said that they greatly enjoyed the event, and Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, claimed it represented a testament of the universal power of cold beers on a warm evening to make people get along with each other. Regarding the contrast between the current political situation and the decision to hold a beer festival, Cockerell said the he would simply see the event as ascribed to market forces and the desire to expand brand awareness while making profit.

A Second beer festival is scheduled to take place in September on the occasion of the forthcoming Wonsan air show.


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