Does North Korea Have Starbucks

Does North Korea have Starbucks? It’s a common question with curious tourists, and the answer is a resounding no. North Korea is cut off from much of the modern world and doesn’t have access to the same conveniences as other countries. For example, it lacks the technology and infrastructure to support a large-scale coffee chain like Starbucks. Additionally, North Korea’s civil and economic isolation from the rest of the world limits the possibilities for direct trade and investment from overseas corporations, like Starbucks.

North Korean citizens, for the most part, don’t drink coffee at all. Coffee is considered a premium beverage and a luxury, and it is usually reserved for the elites within the government. In 2010, the Kim Jong Il government began to look into the possibility of a homegrown coffee chain. Unfortunately, the effort had limited success, but it inspired the rise of the local coffee culture in North Korea.

Today, coffee is becoming slightly more available in North Korea, but it is still not a widely consumed beverage. Most of the coffee consumed in North Korea is brewed locally and rarely imported from other countries. Coffee is usually brewed onsite or available in coffee shops, and the quality of coffee varies depending on the establishment. However, most coffee shops don’t offer anything close to the Starbucks experience.

In terms of the international coffee industry, North Korea is effectively off the radar. Starbucks and other global coffee chains don’t have any presence in North Korea due to the limited preparedness of the domestic market. It is also unlikely that these companies will invest in North Korea anytime soon due to the isolated market, labor restrictions, and ideological restrictions.

The main takeaway is that North Korea is not equipped to support a large-scale international coffee chain. Without the necessary infrastructure, multinational companies like Starbucks are unable to enter the country. This limits the availability of coffee and other Western drinks in North Korea.

Local Coffee Culture

When it comes to the local coffee culture in North Korea, it tends to reflect the national identity of the country. Locally brewed coffee is served in a distinct style: usually light roast, with a low-acid flavor, and often served with sweet soybean powder or condensed milk. Coffee shops in North Korea are also different from what you would expect to find in other countries. Most of them don’t have flashy interiors or espresso machines; instead, they are spare and simple with basic tables and chairs.

What’s more, North Korean coffee shops don’t sell many of the specialty drinks found in Western countries. Instead, they focus on offering traditional North Korean beverages, such as green tea, black tea, and rice wine. Additionally, North Koreans usually prepare their own coffee at home. The beans are often roasted over an open flame or air-dried in the sun, and the beans are finely ground before they are brewed.

Coffee isn’t the only beverage of choice in North Korea. Tea is much more popular and drinks like ginseng tea and barley tea are widely consumed. It’s not uncommon to find a teahouse in North Korean cities, where locals gather to socialize, play board games, and enjoy drinks. It is a popular pastime that has become an integral part of North Korean culture.

North Korea and Coffee Imports

While North Korea does not have a Starbucks, the country does import coffee from other countries. In 2018, North Korea imported over four hundred thousand metric tons of coffee from foreign nations, primarily Brazil and Vietnam. The imports have increased substantially since the early 2000s, when the country only imported a few thousand metric tons of coffee. This is mainly due to the growing demand for coffee as North Koreans become more affluent.

However, many of these imports are intended for the elite classes in the country. The majority of North Koreans are unable to afford these imported goods due to the country’s harsh economic realities. As a result, the local coffee culture prevails in most parts of North Korea.

Plus, coffee imports are subject to strict regulation by the government. The government does not allow foreign coffee companies to export coffee to North Korea without a permit. This makes it difficult for North Korean consumers to access international coffee brands, such as Starbucks.

Perception of Coffee in North Korea

One of the most fascinating aspects of North Korean coffee culture is the perception of coffee within the country. In North Korea, coffee is often viewed as a status symbol and, in some cases, even a political statement. Coffee is a rare commodity in North Korea and only those with enough money or power can afford to enjoy it. For example, the North Korean government often uses coffee as part of diplomatic gestures and as a form of social currency.

Another interesting phenomenon is the emergence of “coffee groups” in North Korea. These are informal groups of people that come together to drink coffee and discuss a variety of topics. Coffee groups have grown in popularity over the years and many of them are focused on political topics. They are seen as a way for North Koreans to express their opinions, despite the restrictive political environment.

Coffee and the Trade War

Since 2018, the US-China trade war has had a considerable impact on the North Korean coffee industry. Since North Korea relies heavily on imports from both China and the United States, the tariffs imposed on these countries have hindered its ability to import coffee. This has resulted in fewer imports and higher prices for North Korean consumers.

The trade war has also had a significant effect on North Korean coffee producers. Small-scale coffee producers in North Korea are unable to access the international markets, due to the country’s restrictions on trade. As a result, these producers are unable to compete in the global market and can only rely on domestic sales for revenue.

Future of Coffee in North Korea

The future of coffee in North Korea is uncertain. The country remains closed off to much of the world and its economic isolation makes it difficult for multinational corporations to enter the market. Coffee imports are also limited due to the restrictions imposed by the US-China trade war.

That being said, there is potential for the North Korean coffee industry to grow in the future. The coffee scene in North Korea is starting to gain momentum and coffee is becoming more accessible, with coffee shops popping up in major cities. Plus, the North Korean government is actively looking for ways to stimulate the coffee industry, with plans for a homegrown coffee chain.

At this point, it’s too early to tell if North Korea will ever have a Starbucks, but it’s clear that the domestic coffee industry is making strides. North Korean citizens are becoming more familiar with coffee and its popularity is slowly increasing. But for now, North Korea remains off the radar for multinational coffee chains, such as Starbucks.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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