Food Mondays: Kimchi and kitsch on the menu of North Korean-run restaurants

September 12, 2011

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We return to our occassional series Food Mondays with a look at a restaurant chain owned by one of the world’s most isolated nations.

North Korean-run cafes are sprouting up all across Asia. They give customers a rare look inside the eccentric one-party state. While the cafes offer up plenty of kitsch alongside kimchi, you won’t see any portraits of the “Dear Leader.”

Increasingly, the restaurants have become an important source of foreign exchange for Pyongyang.

Cambodia-based journalist Sebastian Strangio is a regular at the chain’s Phnom Penh outpost. He wrote about the growing popularity of these establishments for the Atlantic.

He says it's not the food that brings in the customers.

 

Watch waitresses perform at a North-Korean restaurant in Beijing: