The North Korean Coke Scene

So North Korea is one of two countries you can’t buy coke right? Along with Cuba? Actually you can buy Chinese made Coca-Cola, as well as North Korea Coke known as Ryongjin Cola.

Is North Korean coke any good though and how does it fare on #ColaQuest? Here’s our guide to North Korean coke and how it fits on the global coke scene.

FantaQuest and ColaQuest

If you follow my Instagram you will notice that as well as being genuine Street Food fanatic, I also have a soft spot for the glorious pray of soft drinks that the world has to offer! If you don’t follow my Instagram, then you bloody well should @thestreetfoodguy

On my IG there’s a few quests that I have, one is Fantaquest, where I try to find all the best Fanta’s. I think he winning one here would be Tonic Water Fanta from Belize. I have my Irn Bru quest, which would be jointly held my Cuban, and Colombian Irn Bru, and lastly there’s my Cola quest. Recently I found a clear “tab” type Pepsi in Macao. It didn’t get itself a blog, but it deserves an honorable mention! As always I digress. Lets get back to Korean Coke, or to be more specific North Korean Coke.

North Korean Coke

North Korean Coke, why do they make it?

Now to say that North Korea and America aren’t exactly chums would be an understatement, so thus there has never been a Coco-Cola bottling franchise in the DPRK. So, the DPRK, much like Cuba went down the road of making their own version of the quintessential imperialist pop! The Cuban one, I have to say is one of the best non-coco-cola, or coke rip-offs I have ever had, but to be fair when your main drink you produce is rum, you cannot fuck up your Cola. Moving on.

South Korean Coke

As we know South Korea, or to be more precise th Republic of Korea are either good mates with America, or Yankee puppets. This has meant that getting the “real thing” has never been much of an issue in Seoul.

Coca-Cola President Robert Woodruff believed that every American service man and woman deserved a coke wherever they were and whatever the cost. Thus during the Korean War, Koreans got themselves fancy for coke. It was not long after that Koreans were creating their own coke under license.

There’s therefore never really been an indigenous Korean coke in the south, only in the north! Does that mean that North Korea won the Korean Coke wars? Lets take a look.

Can you buy Coca-Cola in North Korea?

There are literally tonnes of blogs and articles that say North Korea and Cuba are the only two countries in the world you cannot buy coke. That is false. You can but Coca-Cola in both North Korea and Cuba.

Although the “real” coke in North Korea, is real as in bottled/canned in China, and imported. Previously though you could not buy it, thus “Ryongjin Cola”, or Cocoa Sparkling was born.. This as well as their version of sprite are the core North Korean sodas. There is also a North Korean cream soda that is frankly amazing! So yeah there is definitely a North Korean soda and Korean coke scene.

So, yes you can buy Coca-Cola in North Korea, you can also buy North Korean coke.

North Korean coke

I got my first try of this ten years ago on one of my first trips to North Korea, and how to describe it! Cuban Coke, or as it is branded tuCola is made in partnership with a Brazilian company. I would describe it, as I said before as one of the best copy cokes I have tried. Ryongjin Cola is not tuCola. Remember when you were a kid and you went to a poor kids birthday party, and they had store brand cola, well its almost as good as that. I would serioulsy love to try North Korean coke, with North Korean whisky!

north korean whisky with North Korean Coke??
North Korean drinks – local whisky

I have lately been able to try Ize Cola in Cambodia, very good and you can read about it here.

ize cola
Cambodian drinks

Do you need mixers in North Korea?

A very valid question! In general you do not. Soju is drank straight, and at worst you can use Taedonggang Beer as a chaser. If you are “The Diplo” they sell bottles of vodka and the “real thing” – yes actual Coca-Cola. Another cool cocktail is SoMaek, which is literally beer and Soju mixed together, but I digress.

I once though discovered Tanduay Rum in a tiny place called Anju County. The only time I have seen a rum of any prominence in the country. I thus got to do a North Korean/Filipino Rum and Coke. I’ll go as far as saying it worked. Did it taste great? No, but it did get the job done at least.

And that is the story of cola in North Korea and the North Korean coke scene.

Recent Articles