Whenever we go abroad, we’ll always have family and friends eagerly awaiting their souvenirs upon return – or we just want to buy some keepsakes for our own benefit. Whether it’s stamps or fridge magnets that are your thing, North Korea is no exception to this.
We’ve put together a list of our favourite North Korean souvenirs you can pick up in the country and impress your friends and family with even more.
Everyone needs and loves a calendar. This gift is particularly good at the start of the new year (obviously), and also makes for a great Christmas present. There is a range of designs available, from pottery to different North Korean foods. Definitely beats those calendars of cute dogs and cats, in our opinion anyway!
You’ll find these available at the Foreign Language Bookshop in Pyongyang.
At the foreign language bookstore you’ll be spoilt for choice on the sheer amount of books available for purchase. Brush up on your DPRK knowledge by picking up one of the many books available in many different foreign languages (including German, French, Japanese, Chinese & Russian), or even learn some North Korean dialect by picking up one of the language study books. Have a practice whilst you’re still in the country!
3. North Korean Soju/Beer/Cigarettes
An easy but effective souvenir. Soju and beer are available pretty much anywhere. Beer is usually in large bottles so not so transportable, but soju can come in much smaller bottles, perfect for a gift or for yourself. If you’re worried about bottles breaking in your suitcase, you can also buy soju in plastic bottles – although you will definitely be compromising on quality with this one.
There are hundreds of different types to choose from, and you can pick some up on a trip to the Kwangbok supermarket in Pyongyang using North Korea’s local currency, Korean Won. They are usually very cheap – but your friends and family don’t need to know how much you bought it for. For all they know, it’s North Korea’s finest at €30 a pop.
Cigarettes are also quite a novelty. They range from very cheap to European prices. The most expensive you can buy is the 727 Victory cigarettes. They work out at around €5 per packet, but are the best on offer!
The souvenir of choice for many tourists, and it’s not hard to see why. These hand-painted propaganda posters vary in price, but usually average out to be around €40, depending on where you purchase them and what poster it is.
They are relatively easy to transport (they will be rolled up neatly) and make for a great and impressive decoration in your lounge or bedroom or a great and unique present for friends and family. As a centrepiece in the living room, a poster of a North Korean missile crushing an American soldier definitely makes for an interesting talking point!
This one comes in at No.1 because of it’s ease and cheapness, but high satisfaction rating. Is there a more unique souvenir than receiving a postcard from North Korea? They’re small, cheap, and easy to carry around. They also have some pretty awesome design, similar to those that you’ll find on the propaganda posters.
They also make for an easy decoration if the posters are too big or too expensive. Pick yourself up a handful of postcards, and create a collage on your bedroom wall!
Postcards and stamps can be picked up from many of the tourist shops in Pyongyang and can be sent from a few places we visit too. They take around three months to reach Europe. They get processed fairly quickly in North Korea, but then go through China, which can cause a bit of a hold-up. If you don’t get to somewhere to post your postcards, give them to your YPT guide so they can do it the next time they’re around!