Cafe culture thrives from extra time and cash

According to the Daily NK:

Along with restaurants selling food such as pizza and hamburgers, a growing number of cafes are sprouting up across North Korea, breaking out of Pyongyang where they were once concentrated. Major cities in other provinces have seen an increase in relatively affluent and young people who are willing to splurge on coffee and western dishes, Daily NK has learned.

“In the areas around Hamheung Station square a lot of coffee and tea houses as well as hamburger shops have popped up,” a source in South Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on Thursday. “Around the intersection and marketplace, where there’s a lot of foot traffic, state companies under the Party and military have opened coffee and hamburgers joints to pull in more money.”

She added, “The coffee is imported from China and Italy. They’re drawing a lot of attention because they not only have hot teas but also all kinds of fruit juices and even an ice shaving machine for hotter days.” The places are becoming popular among donju [new affluent middle class], college students, and young people, as popular “hang out” venues.

“They also have drip coffee and Americanos that South Koreans love so much. They serve it in a 200ml cup right on the spot, and it’s roughly 12,000 KPW [1.48 USD] for one coffee,” she said. “In the case of ordinary residents, they’re unfamiliar with the taste, so many choose hot tea, which is only about half the cost, or they go with cold fruit juices as well.”

An increasing number of people are willing to pay for coffee and drinks, despite them being over double the price of an average laborers’ monthly wage. Such establishments are spreading in large cities such as Nampo, Pyongsong in South Pyongan Province, Chongjin in North Hamkyung Province, and Wonsan in Kangwon Province. Most of these cities are home to foreign currency-earning trading companies, according to the source.

“Restaurants and stands affiliated with trading companies tasked with earning foreign currency sell hamburgers, pizza, waffles and other processed foods made with ready-made mixes,” the source said. “Other restaurants that claim to be more upscale sell omurice [Japanese omelette stuffed with fried rice], curry, yakisoba [stir-fried noodles], and other varieties of Japanese dishes.”

She explained that while the prices at these coffee shops and hamburger establishments may be more than five times that of an average establishment, “more people are showing a tendency to splurge once or twice a month.” When cadres from the Central Party make business trips to areas outside of Pyongyang, provincial officials even escort them to these eateries as a form as hospitality.

This greater variety of cuisine has been welcomed by many, with people from affluent classes to young college students saying they are learning more about the world through various foods, according to the source. However, she did add some are not so pleased about tastes with which they are unfamiliar and the attending hefty price tags.

Read the full story here:
Cafe culture thrives from extra time and cash
Daily NK
Choi Song Min
2015-5-22

Share

Comments are closed.


An affiliate of 38 North