Living and Eating in North Korea

Eating in North Korea

Separated kitchen

Since the country is so closed, the food is less westernized than in other Asian countries. But since there is hardly any trade with North Korea, the North Koreans remain dependent on what they can produce and manufacture themselves. Incidentally, there is now a North Korean restaurant in Amsterdam that also offers the country’s specialties abroad. However, this is heavily criticized by human rights organizations, arguing that in North Korea people are sometimes starving, while specialties are served in the restaurant that a North Korean can only dream of.

North Korean food

As a country located in Asia according to diseaseslearning, North and South Korean cuisine are similar. That’s not surprising, because as long as the two countries are not yet separated and earlier there were just only one Korean. As in most other Asian countries, rice is very important for every meal. For North Korea, Kim-Chi (or spelled Kimtchi) is a traditional dish. This is a spicy pickled salad made from cabbage, beets and garlic.

What do you eat like that?

Like to eat bulgogi. This food is very spicy, as in all of Korea the food is prepared spicier than in other Asian countries. Beef is grilled in a very spicy sauce and then wrapped in a lettuce leaf with various spices and coleslaw. You then eat this with your fingers.

Pyongyang’s cold vermicelli is also famous. These consist of buckwheat flour and potato starch. There is also a soup made from pheasant, chicken and minced meat. Sinseollo (a fondue with vegetables and meat) is also a traditional dish.

Table orders and eating habits

The table manners are very strictly regulated in North Korea. So it is considered impolite to speak while eating. What you don’t like to see either, and what is often enough common practice with us, is to quickly eat something “on the hand” on the street. It is also not welcomed when someone eats with their fingers. As a tourist you will be able to eat normally and well in North Korea. If you go to a restaurant, you shouldn’t tip there, because that’s forbidden in North Korea.


The North Koreans themselves rarely eat in restaurants, and certainly not in restaurants that meet Western standards. People cannot afford that. Unless you are one of those loyal to the government. The North Koreans who live in the country mostly have to get by with what they grow themselves. Meat is certainly less often on the table here. Soybeans, corn, millet and wheat and of course rice are the staple foods here.

Eating in North Korea

Typical North Korea

Mass games

So-called mass games take place regularly in North Korea. These are events at which around 100,000 people perform a kind of dance together on a large square or in a stadium. This is usually in honor of the North Korean dictators. But even if it is a propaganda event, the accuracy and the sequence of these dances are impressive. The dancers often act out the heroic stories of the “leaders” Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

Television in North Korea

A television set is a luxury in North Korea. Many people don’t even have a radio. And if there are televisions, they are mostly still old models, the good old tube televisions, maybe your grandmother still has one of these. And if you can call a television set your own, then there is only one television program, which mostly shows propaganda or propaganda films again, so not very exciting for children. Watching TV less often isn’t that bad after all. However, the Koreans have no real information at all about what is really going on in their country or even in the whole world.

And when they hear something, it is often not the truth. Because the government controls the radio and television programs throughout the country. Critical about the government must not be said at all. The poverty and misery in the country is certainly not an issue. Because this could evoke criticism that should not even exist. For example, television mostly shows nature films, documentaries or films that are made in North Korea itself.

In addition to the old technology, there are certainly modern devices, some of which have been developed in-house. You can see tablets and flat screens. Those who belong to the party and work for the government enjoy many advantages, including the luxury of modern goods and modern technology.