April 16, 2024
Analysis

The diet of the North’s new rich

Far from starving, Pyongyangites enjoy a large and diverse restaurant scene

While the still widely held assumption that North Koreans are regularly starving is generally untrue, malnourishment still remains widespread in the country. Most North Koreans remain thin and short, and success and affluence in North Korea are often advertised by a protruding and fat belly (not by a slim figure, which has long become a sign of success in the developed West).

Contrary to what is often assumed, the Pyongyang restaurant scene nowadays is large and varied, so it is never a problem to find a really good meal if one has enough money in the pocket. The newer, semi-private eateries tend to keep low-profile, and often have their windows covered with heavy curtains. The signboards are also small, if not absent, so outsiders would have few clues of the luxury inside.

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