While most Westerners associate chewing gum with minty flavours, many North Koreans find it a little intense. And while you will find mint flavoured gum or toothpaste, they often use substitutes that are a bit more familiar- with one of these being Ginseng or Insam as it’s called in Korean.
I first noticed this gum for a couple of reasons, and one was the price- at around 3.50USD it was pretty expensive for a locally produced gum, and the second was the fact it was the only container on the shelf near the checkout at Kwanbok Supermarket, and it had a big electronic security tag tied around it. Considering the price and the lengths they went to protect it I figured it should be worth a try.
It proved a hit with my local guides Han and Om, but got mixed feedback from those in my group who were willing to give it a try. The Ginseng flavour isn’t subtle, though I suppose that’s to be expected if it’s meant to freshen one’s breath. On the other hand, it doesn’t last very long, and pretty soon, the gum is tasteless. This is either a blessing or a failing, depending on your feelings about ginseng as a flavour. As to whether it freshened my breath, I didn’t dare get close enough to anyone to find out, but it didn’t feel as refreshing as the minty gums I’m more familiar with.
Overall at 3.50 USD, this is definitely the most expensive North Korean chewing gum, I’ve ever seen, and at that kind of price, I’d rather get something imported, with a minty flavour that lasts. If you have any friends at home who are into chewing gum however, this might be an ideal, if slightly unusual, souvenir to bring back from your trip to Pyongyang.
To try it for yourself see our list of upcoming North Korea tours by clicking here!.