Beer in North Korea is a thing. Apparently, they began brewing in 2001 at the urging of Kim Jong Il. He looks so happy, beer in hand. pic.twitter.com/ZVtbmQjA6e
— jellystoner (@stonedape75) July 27, 2017
The most unlikable man on earth, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, very much likes beer (along with mini golf and torture). We’ve reported previously how the country’s Taedonggang Brewery pumps out some 53,000 gallons of beer every day to meet the demand of beer drinkers in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang — where it’s distributed to 160 beer halls (last year’s stats). In fact, if reports are to be believed (which they probably shouldn’t be), brewing remains just about the only useful activity at which North Korea beats the South.
A recent article for the International Business Times (an American online news publication that publishes seven national editions in four languages) noted that the North Korean government has launched a new beer with an exclusive recipe that uses wheat (instead of barley). From the article:
The regime’s Taedonggang Brewing Company said the beer uses wheat instead of barley, which “is better in terms of its taste and smell”.
The newspaper said the new mixture has been created as part of a “round-the-clock battle” to make North Koreans’ lives “more enjoyable”.
That’s a nice mission statement. We’re not sure if the beer has a name, noting other Taedonggang beer names (“Beer Number One,” “Beer Number Two” and so on) were not especially creative. Taedonggang beer itself is named after the Taedong River, which runs through the center of Pyongyang. The Taedonggang brewhouse actually has an interesting history and was the old brewery for Ushers of Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, England — bought by North Koreans for £1.5 million back in 2000 (read the odd story here). Apparently, Jong-un wanted to use this used brewhouse to make better brewskis than his neighbors. We quote the previously mentioned International Business Times article:
Taedonggang began work on [its] barley beer back in the 2000s after Kim Jong-un complained about the standard of the lager that was coming from South Korea, Chosun Ilbo reported back in 2015. The site quoted the dictator as saying South Korean beer was “really tasteless”.
Burn. If even Taedonggang is better than popular South Korean brands such as Cass and Hite, we’re not really sure how and where one can enjoy an authentic Taedonggang wheat beer. Enjoy being the key word. Back to the International Business Times article:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has previously gone on record to describe his enjoyment of drinking beer. However, his government banned drinking and singing parties in an attempt to stifle loose tongues uttering dissent in the wake of crippling UN sanctions, according to South Korean spies.
“[Pyongyang] has devised a system whereby party organs report people’s economic hardships on a daily basis, and it has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information,” the spooks told parliament.
What kind of monster bans singing parties? In similarly weird news, a trademark for Taedonggang beer was actually registered in Miami recently, and the “anonymous” group behind this Taedonggang USA brand launched its first beer at Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Co. on January 13 of 2018. The Miami New Times reported that the beer was a recreation of its North Korean counterpart and had nothing to do with actual Taedonggang Brewery products.