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Burgers, fast food coming to North Korea

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  • Pamela Rice
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090730/ap_on_re_as/as_nkorea_fast_food Where s the beef? At North Korean fast-food joint By KELLY OLSEN, Associated Press Writer
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2009
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      Where's the beef? At North Korean fast-food joint
      By KELLY OLSEN, Associated Press Writer Kelly Olsen, Associated Press Writer

      Thu Jul 30, 2009

      SEOUL, South Korea - You want kimchi with that?

      The first fast-food joint has opened in North Korea, serving up
      burgers, fries and beer in Pyongyang, and the locals are lovin' it so
      much that more are planned for the communist capital.

      And it's not just junk food. Other symbols of Western capitalism are
      sprouting up - including a beer commercial on state TV and a
      convenience store that reportedly was visited in April by leader Kim
      Jong Il.

      Impoverished and isolated North Korea likes to boast of its nuclear
      weapons and regularly threatens the U.S. and South Korea should they
      dare invade. Still, it is offering citizens of its capital some of
      the commonplace delights of its sworn enemies.

      The Samtaesong fast-food restaurant, which reportedly opened last
      month, serves up very American fare: hamburgers, french fries,
      waffles and draft beer. Also on the menu: kimchi, the spicy pickled
      cabbage that Koreans love. It plans to add croissants and hot dogs.

      "It is not so long since its opening, but our restaurant has become
      popular among our people and foreigners," manager Ko Jong Ok told
      broadcaster APTN in Pyongyang on Thursday. "We are planning to set up
      branches in many places of the city in the future."

      APTN video showed the staff, mostly young women, in orange aprons and
      white hats cooking hamburgers and french fries.

      The restaurant appeared to be styled after fast-food joints the world
      over, with the menu pictured above the counter. Several North Koreans
      were seen ordering and others eating at tables, although more seats
      were empty than filled.

      One British customer said he was satisfied.

      "I think it is very clean and I think every effort has been made to
      present the food very well," George Bottomley told APTN.

      Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper viewed as a mouthpiece for the
      North Korean government, reported last week that the restaurant
      opened in June in cooperation with a Singaporean company that it did
      not identify. The company provided training to the staff and supplied

      A hamburger costs $1.70, Choson Sinbo said. That is more than half of
      the daily income of the average North Korean.

      North Korea has relied on outside handouts to feed its 24 million
      people since natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its
      economy in the 1990s and helped cause a famine. Its government
      strictly controls information about the outside world.

      Residents of Pyongyang are considered the most affluent in North
      Korea, where the government has in recent years introduced limited
      market reforms in an apparent effort to ease hardship and raise
      living standards.

      And just so patrons of the fast-food restaurant don't forget who's
      the boss, a sign outside reads, "Long live the Songun revolution
      ideology." Songun, which means "military first," is one of Kim's key
      policies calling for giving priority to North Korea's armed forces.

      Choson Sinbo reported this month that Kim, known for his taste for
      expensive cognac and sushi, bought five bottles of "makgeolli," a
      milky Korean liquor, and other drinks at the convenience store in

      Also this month, state TV aired what is believed to be North Korea's
      first beer commercial, a nearly three-minute ad that followed a news

      It showed a grinning, sweaty man holding a glass of beer. A caption
      read, "Taedong River Beer is the pride of Pyongyang."

      The commercial said the beer relieves stress and improves health and
      longevity. The clip also showed a pub in Pyongyang filled with

      State TV also showed footage Wednesday from South Korean TV programs
      that had been edited to highlight social and economic problems in the
      far richer South. The move was apparently aimed at quashing rumors
      among North Koreans that the rival country - a major economic success
      story and member of the Group of 20 nations - is better off.


      Associated Press writers Jae-soon Chang and Kwang-tae Kim contributed
      to this report.
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