Can I bum a smoke?

I have visited the DPRK twice, and in that time, I purchased every different brand of cigarette I saw.  So I have 9 different brands (not including menthols).  So it came a a shock to me when I read in the Daly NK about another brand I had never heard of…and it was the most popular!?!?

“Craven A” Cigarettes! (a.k.a. cat cigarettes)

  • They cost a pretty steep 1,500W ($.5).  Considering that the monthly salary of a North Korean worker is b/n 2000~10,000W ($0.6-3.3) and the price of 1kg of rice is 800~900W($0.27-0.3), CRAVEN’s are very costly.
  • Caven A is a product of British American Tobacco (BAT), and is widely consumed in the Middle East and Africa. In October 2004, the Guardian, British daily newspaper, had reported that BAT has been secretly operating a cigarette factory in North Korea. BAT announced that they had established “Daesung-BAT” with the Korean “Chosun Suhkyung Trading Company” in September 2001, and have been producing Craven A and Viceroy (?).
  • Teresa La Thangue, a spokesman from BAT said, “Approximately 200 workers are present in the factory in North Korea, producing maximum of 2,000 million cigarettes every year, and all the products are consumed strictly in North Korea.” When asked the reason for not revealing the existence of the factory in North Korea earlier, Thangue replied, “Compared to the scale of BAT, which produces 90 billion cigarettes every year, the factory in North Korea only takes up a very small portion of the output.” Assuming there are 20 million North Korens, and if half of them are men (smokers), then that means BAT produces  200 cigarettes per North Korean per year.  What is the official ration? (NKEW)
  • North Koreans can tell the difference between DPRK and Chinese “Craven A”s.  They prefer the Chinese.  They also prefer American Marlboro Reds as well. (NKEW)
  • Defectors allege that the factory used to make counterfit cigarettes.  Whether it does still or not, who knows?
  • Since their invention, cigarettes have served a number of functions (besides smoking).  The same is probably true in the DPRK.

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