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North Korea launches beer advert

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North Korea's first TV beer commercial is set to be "the new look of Pyongyang"

North Korea's latest launch is not missiles, but a TV advertising campaign for a locally-brewed beer.

In a rare nod to commercial motives in the resolutely communist nation, the TV advert features a thirsty worker holding a mug of frothy beer.

Young women in traditional Korean dress are shown serving trays of beer to men in Western suits.

Billed as the "Pride of Pyongyang", the advert promises drinkers that the beer will help ease stress.

"It represents the new look of Pyongyang," the two-and-a-half minute advert says. "It will be a familiar part of our lives."

Taedonggang Beer Factory has been making the brew since buying a British brewery and shipping it lock, stock and barrel from the UK in 2002.

The beer has been occasionally available in South Korea and is said to be of high quality.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, said to have a fondness for fine wines and brandy, has taken a personal interest in the brewery.

"Watching good quality beer coming out in an uninterrupted flow for a long while, he noted with great pleasure that it has now become possible to supply more fresh beer to people in all seasons," North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, said after he visited the brewery in 2002.


A selection of your comments:

Yes, I have tasted Taedonggang many times. I even visited the brewery in Pyongyang 18 months ago. The draught beer they served was really good (something to do with the rice they added). Generally, draught Taedonggang was not sold to foreigners. Occasionally, you could buy a 20 litre barrel for 20 euro for a party. The bottled beer on the other hand was not so good. If your first beer was Taedonggang, it tasted ok, but if you had a western beer first and then switched to Taedonggang, it tasted sour and very bitter and was sometimes cloudy. The quality of the beer changed often. When the German crew came to Pyongyang and cleaned the tank and the pipes, it tasted quite good. The brewery belonged to a German company before being sold to Britain, and then being sold to North Korea. Also, the sale of the beer depended on the availability of bottles. No bottles, no beer and the supermarket shelves stayed empty. The bottled beer was sold in 660ml bottles for 0.33 euro per bottle. It was served by women in 1/2 litre glasses to male customers only. The beer was poured into the glass from a rubber hose. It cost about 0.10 euro in the local currency. The locals received beer vouchers, for which they queued for hours in advance before the drinking houses open at 15:30. You couldn't smoke in the drinking houses they were always full and also served dried fish. North Koreans love their Taedonggang and drink it at all times of the day not caring if it is cooled or not!
Phil Meyer, Hanoi, Vietnam

When the 1966 North Korean football team came over in 2002, the beers they loved were the darker ales, like London Pride and I think John Smiths. They didn't really get the hang of Guinness. I remember North Korean beer as being heavy to be the point of being cloudy, pretty tasty stuff with more weight than ABV so you were just kept inert. What was lovelier for me in Pyongyang in 2002 and 2003 was the pear cider, which was streets ahead of this new Magners stuff. Robert Willoughby, London, Author of the Bradt Guide to North Korea

All food coming out from North Korea is very good because it's made with fresh ingredients - in other words, not influenced by pollution and chemical substances. Perhaps it's a good thing to be un-open and un-developed.
Bright, Seoul

You can find it here in a few places in Seoul. Surprisingly enough, it's actually a really good beer.
Paul, from Canada living in Seoul

I love the beer! I would have some every day if I can and I am glad to see it can be advertised.
Elliot Dobie, Pyongyang, North Korea



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