Why Doesn’t North Korea Sell Coca Cola


Coca Cola is the most popular soft drink brand in the world. Over the years, it has become a symbol of globalisation and American popular culture, but why is it not available in North Korea? There are many reasons that the North Korean government has decided not to introduce the global beverage company to its people, including the company’s political implications, economic factors and the country’s restrictions on international products. The goal of this article is to shed light on the reasons why this iconic soft drink isn’t available in North Korea and to provide some insight into the unique circumstances that have caused the country to remain as one of the only countries in the world without Coca Cola.

Political Implications

The most obvious reason that North Korea may choose to not to sell Coca Cola is its political implications. It is well known that North Korea is not very friendly with the United States, and the introduction of Coca Cola may be seen as a sign of capitulation to American interests or values. This is something that the North Korean government is not willing to do, as it would be seen as an admission of defeat. The country’s leader Kim Jong Un has successfully been able to resist the influence of the West and its popular culture, something that is seen as a mark of pride in North Korea.

Economic Factors

Another reason why North Korea may choose to not to sell Coca Cola is due to economic factors. It is well known that the country is subject to tough economic sanctions, and even if the government was willing to make a deal with the American beverage giant, it is unlikely that its resources would be able to sustain it. Additionally, the North Korean government has instead focused on producing its own soft drink brands such as Koryo, which can be found in select places in the country.

Restrictions on International Products

Lastly, North Korea is known for its strict restrictions on international products. The country has an incredibly closed-off and controlled political and economic system, which means that any foreign products that enter the country are heavily monitored and regulated. This makes it difficult for companies like Coca Cola to be able to penetrate the market and make a profit, as they would be required to adhere to the country’s idiosyncratic rules and regulations.

Tightly Regulated Trading System

North Korea has a tightly regulated trading system which makes it difficult for new products, or companies, to prove themselves and make a profit. Coca Cola is a very large and well-known company, but the government has been known to be suspicious of foreign companies and their involvement in the country’s affairs. This makes it even harder for the company to be able to make a profit, as they would be required to work around the country’s restrictive trading and distribution policies.

High Production Costs

Another factor that has deterred Coca Cola from entering North Korea is the high production costs. The costs of production and distribution in North Korea are much higher than in other parts of the world, and this has caused the company to be hesitant to set up operations in the country. Additionally, the costs of transporting the product from other countries would also be incredibly high, making it unattractive for the company to make any investments in the country.

Lack of Infrastructure

Coca Cola may also be reluctant to enter the North Korean market due to the lack of infrastructure. The country has an unreliable network of roads, which makes transporting goods to and from the country a difficult task. Additionally, the electrical grid is not very reliable, making it difficult to store perishable goods such as the company’s soft drinks. This lack of infrastructure makes it difficult for the company to be able to set up its operations in the country.

Lack of Advertising Opportunities

The North Korean government has strict restrictions on advertising and other forms of media, which makes it difficult for companies like Coca Cola to promote their products in the country. This makes it incredibly difficult for the company to be able to reach potential customers and make a profit, as the lack of advertising opportunities gives the company little room to market its products.

Lack of Consumer Demand

Despite the company’s efforts to find a foothold in North Korea, the lack of consumer demand may be the biggest deterrent of all. North Koreans are not very familiar with soft drinks and the concept of Coca Cola, as the country has resisted the influence of Western culture and media for many years. This may have caused the North Korean government to be hesitant about allowing the beverage giant to operate in the country.

Conclusion of Consumer Culture

North Korean society is very different from the rest of the world, and the country’s unique cultural norms and values have led to it resisting the influence of companies such as Coca Cola. The company has attempted to enter the country, but the restrictions on international products, the lack of infrastructure, and the lack of consumer demand have caused it to be unsuccessful. This article has explored the many reasons why North Koreans are not able to enjoy this global favorite and it is clear that there are many forces at play in why this soft drink is not available to its citizens.

Political and Economic Impact

The political implications of Coca Cola entering North Korea are clear, as the introduction of the iconic soft drink would be seen as a capitulation to American interests or values. Additionally, economic factors such as economic sanctions, the high production costs and the lack of adequate infrastructure also play a major role in the company’s decision not to invest in the country.

The Role of the Government

The North Korean government is another major player in why Coca Cola has not been able to enter the market. The country is highly restrictive when it comes to international products and have imposed strict regulations and policies that make it difficult for companies such as Coca Cola to make a profit. Additionally, advertising opportunities in the country are limited and this has hindered the company’s efforts to reach potential customers.

Cultural Factors

Lastly, the cultural norms of North Korea play a major role in why Coca Cola has not been able to make a successful entrance into the market. Many North Koreans are not familiar with the concept of soft drinks, and the company’s efforts to market its products are often fruitless. Additionally, the country is proud to be resistant to the influence of Western culture, making the introduction of Coca Cola a challenge.

Implications for the Future

It is unlikely that North Koreans will be able to enjoy Coca Cola in the near future, as the economic and political situation in the country is unlikely to change and the government is unlikely to ease its restrictions on international products. Additionally, the cultural norms in the country remain largely unchanged, making it difficult for companies such as Coca Cola to gain a foothold in the market. However, with relations between the US and North Korea becoming increasingly friendly, there is a possibility that the iconic soft drink could make its entrance into the country in the coming years.

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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