At YPT we like to deal with all of the important matters for traveling to North Korea. Today the big question for the tobacco lovers out there “can you smoke in North Korea”. Short answer is yes, but much like the rest of the world it is getting more controlled.
Do North Koreans smoke?
As per statistics from 2014 about 45% of North Korean men smoked, compared to a paltry 2% of women. Said women are also probably from lower end of the social strata and generally reside in the countryside. In short, North Koreans, the men at least, like to smoke and if you happen to be a smoker a bag of foreign cigs is a good way to bond with your North Korean tour guide. For women, there is a stereotype going about that a woman smoking is a ”bad woman” or that she is ”too manly” and that is why many refrain from doing so.
Is there any kind of anti-smoking drive in North Korea?
President Kim Il-Sung, Leader Kim Jong Il, and Chairman Kim Jong-Un were, or are smokers. The exception being Kim Jong-Il who not only gave up, but declared smokers to be the “idiots of the 21st century”. alongside those with knowledge of computers and of all things music.
As official government policy though, tobacco smoking is discouraged.
Is there any kind of smoking ban in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea?
There is no ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, but any official place, or tourist venue is very much no smoking. This includes public spaces, such as hotel lobbies. For Koreans, not smoking, as well as not wearing a hat, is a very important part of etiquette around revolutionary sights and site related to the history of the leaders.
Can you drop cigarette butts in North Korea?
It is not nearly as strict as it is made out to be, but in general it is considered polite to pick up your dog ends and find a suitable trash container to put them. This is much less about smoking, but more about keeping Pyongyang one of the cleanest cities on earth.
How much do cigarettes cost in the DPRK?
Much like China there are many varieties all costing a different amount. One of the most popular brands is Chonji (heaven lake), which costs about $1. The cigarette of choice for Marshal Kim Jong-Un, 727 costs almost $50 for a carton.
In the Rason SEZ, it is possible to pick up a carton on not very nice cigarettes for under $1. You read that right a whole carton.
Is there any cigarette advertising in the country?
Well seeing as it is a socialist country there really isn’t any advertising at all, unless of course you count propaganda!
And that is skinny on smoking in North Korea. Yes, you can smoke in North Korea as long as you respect a few rules of etiquette! Smokers and non-smokers are all equally welcome on a tour!