If you have never heard of the Rason SEZ, and there probably isn’t a good reason why would have then let me explain!
Rason is the main and to some extents only Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of North Korea. Formed in the 1980’s in the spirit of the opening of China and to a lesser extent the Soviet Union it allowed the North Koreans to experiment with Joint-Venture companies, as well as capitalism to a limited extent.
To read a more detailed explanation of the SEZ click here.
Rason has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but it has survived and to extent thrives. It is also one of the most interesting places that you can visit in North Korea and heres why!
Rason is the least visited part of North Korea
Mainland North Korea gets over 5000 western visitors per year, whilst Rason gets less than 100. This is off the beaten track.
What makes Rason a special place to visit?
When you do a Rason tour it tends to be more relaxed than other parts of North Korea and you can do things like change money and visit the local markets (more on that one later). You can even buy a North Korean debit card in Rason, so there!
Rason is also technically at least the easiest place to do business in North Korea. We have taken many clients here on behalf of our North Korean business consultancy. Results have been mixed but foreigners certainly do business in Rason.
What is there to eat and drink in Rason?
When you visit Pyongyang, or other parts of North Korea your meals tend to be picked for you, but in Rason there is some more flexibility. And it is here that we will guide you on the best places to eat and drink in the Rason SEZ!
Most fancy restaurant in Rason?
The legendary Imperial Hotel & Casino, formerly the Emperor Hotel of the Emerpor Group is the most fancy hotel in all of North Korea. It therefore has the fanciest buffet meal, although it is more Chinese than Korean.
The Imperial hotel might be the best hotel in Rason and North Korea, but one of the most fun is the Rajin Hotel. The Rajin Hotel was built by the Japanese during colonial times and has a huge square as well as great street BBQ, Karaoke and draft beer options around it. Many a night has been lost here….
Best foreign restaurant in Rason
The legendary Ukrainian Restaurant is a famous haunt of ours, classic dishes like dumplings, but also vodka. Lots and lots of vodka.
Best meal in Rason
For this head to the public market and buy yourself a whole heap of seafood. They have crabs, lobsters, clams, squid, octopus, you name it and they pretty much well got it. Seafood in Rason is by far the cheapest I have ever sampled in the world. You then get your RITA (Rason International Travel Agency) guide to find a restaurant to cook it for you. Theres a kind of corkage fee, but it is well worth it.
Best place for drinks in Rason
There is a now infamous Czech brewery, actually built and designed by the Czecks near the main square. As you might expect they serve pretty damned good beer here.
And that is the skinny on dining and drinking in Rason!