Various North Korean dishes and foods
Various North Korean dishes and foods

North Korea is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is bordered to the south by South Korea, and the two countries are separated by the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Some dishes are shared by the two Koreas.

Historically, Korean cuisine has evolved through centuries of social and political change. Originating from ancient agricultural and nomadic traditions in southern Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula, it has gone through a complex interaction of the natural environment and different cultural trends.[1] Rice dishes and kimchi are staple Korean foods. In a traditional meal, they accompany both side dishes (Banchan) and main courses like juk, Bulgogi or noodles. Soju liquor is the best-known traditional Korean spirit.[2]

North Korean cuisine

P'yŏngyang-raengmyŏn (평양랭면/평양냉면) is a cold noodle dish.
P'yŏngyang-raengmyŏn (평양랭면/평양냉면) is a cold noodle dish.

Some North Korean dishes and foods are also prepared in South Korea, and a multitude of dishes that originated in North Korea were brought to South Korea by migrating families after the Korean War.[3] Many of these imported dishes became staples in the South Korean diet.[3]

In North Korea, some dishes vary in flavor compared to South Korean versions, with some North Korean dishes being less spicy and more varied in composition compared to South Korean preparations.[4][5] North Korean dishes have been described as having a unique and specific tanginess that is derived from using ingredients with flavors of sweet, sour, pungent and spicy, in combinations that create this effect.[6]

Some restaurants, particularly in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, have expensive pricing relative to average worker wages in North Korea.[7][8] Accessibility to restaurants is not always available to average North Korean citizens, with tourists and rich citizens being the primary patrons at some of them, particularly upscale ones.[7][8] Per their pricing, upscale restaurants are typically available only to well-paid leaders of the North Korean government, tourists visiting the country, and the emerging affluent middle class of donju in the country.[9][10] Donju means "masters of money", and the donju typically hold positions in the government, positions operating state-owned businesses outside of the country, and positions involving bringing investments and the importation of products into the country.[11][12][13][14]

Some street foods exist in North Korea, such as in Pyongyang, where vendors operate food stalls.[15][16][17] North Korea's first pizzeria opened in 2009.[18] Alcoholic beverages are produced and consumed in North Korea, and the country's legal drinking age is 18.[19]

North Korean dishes and foods

An example of gajami sikhae, a fermented and salted food prepared in North Korea using flounder
An example of gajami sikhae, a fermented and salted food prepared in North Korea using flounder
An example of kimbap
An example of kimbap
An example of chokbal
An example of chokbal
Raengmyŏn served at Okryu-gwan restaurant in Pyongyang, North Korea
Raengmyŏn served at Okryu-gwan restaurant in Pyongyang, North Korea
P'ajŏn: pictured is haemulp'ajŏn, a seafood scallion pancake
P'ajŏn: pictured is haemulp'ajŏn, a seafood scallion pancake
An example of kangjǒng
An example of kangjǒng

Condiments

Koch'ujang is a red chili pepper paste
Koch'ujang is a red chili pepper paste

Some condiments used in North Korea to add flavor to foods are listed below.

Beverages

Taech'u-ch'a tea

Alcoholic beverages

See also: Korean alcoholic beverages and Beer in North Korea

Alcoholic beverages are consumed in North Korea, and drinking is a part of the culture of North Korea.[47] North Korea's legal drinking age is 18, but minors are sometimes allowed to consume alcoholic beverages, and some shop keepers readily sell them alcoholic drinks.[19] Some North Koreans brew and distill alcoholic beverages at home, despite such home alcohol production being forbidden in North Korea, and some sell these beverages to markets, although this is also illegal.[19] Home brewed liquor is made using ingredients such as potatoes and corn.[19] Some North Korean consumers purchase alcoholic beverages directly from alcohol-producing factories in the country, using cash.[19] In recent times, imported Chinese liquor has been allowed to be sold in markets, and a well-known Chinese liquor purveyed in North Korea is Kaoliang Liquor, which has a 46-50% alcohol content.[19]

North Korea has some bars and other drinking establishments, and in recent times, beer halls have become popular in Pyongyang.[48][49][19]

A glass of Taedonggang pilsner beer
A glass of Taedonggang pilsner beer

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "In North Korea it is only the high-ranking government officials and military officers who can afford to give and receive boxes of Shin Ramyun as a present," – stated to Radio Free Asia by a Seoul-based North Korean defector.[34]

References

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Further reading