Young Pioneer Tours

Coca-Cola, North Korea style

North Korean coke! The tale of Coca Cola in North Korea is one that has been told many times. For a long time one has been able to made Chinese-made coke in North Korea, and of course there has always been the homegrown brand of Ryogjin Cola.

You will often see written that North Korea and Cuba are the only two countries in the world you cannot buy coke. This is wrong, very wrong, but today we will talk about their own brand.

North Korean Coke

How to describe this unique cola? Not awful, but not exactly the real deal; not even as good as Cuban coke (which genuinely goes well with rum).

In fairness to North Korea they are not averse to a good rebrand – particularly when said rebrand resembles its western predecessor more than a little.

North Korean sprite

When you travel to North Korea, you’ll notice that you are served ‘coke’ and ‘Sprite’ at your meals. These look a lot like coke and Sprite, but are in fact the local (Ryongjin) variants.

North Korean Coca-Cola

Whilst we certainly don’t expect there to be an 80s-era corporate war à la Pepsi and Coca-Cola, it’s a decent alternative!

North Korean whisky with North Korean coke?

It certainly thickens the plot as it relates to the byzantine world of North Korean beverages: last month we broke the story of North Korea’s first whisky, a whisky one might suspect of deliberately aping the Johnny Walker brand. According to our North Korean friends this was less trademark infringement and more homage.

Samilpo red- and black-label whiskey bottles from the front.
The front labels of the two varieties of whiskey.

And now for the four-million-dollar question: what does North Korean coke taste like when combined with North Korean whisky?

We are sad to say that, despite our reputation preceding us, we have yet to get our delirium-tremensed hands on both Korean whisky and Korean coke simultaneously, thus precluding our ability to perform this crucial taste test. It is, however, very much on the bucket list (along with North Korean champagne).

Are there other great North Korean sodas?

Largely they stick to the knock-off coke and sprite varieties, but there is an amazing North Korean version of Cream Soda that you can buy in the country. It was previoulsy served on Air Koryo flights, although this tends to not to happen now.

And that is the myriad world of North Korean coke, North Korean sprite and North Korean soda.

Try to get the much-hyped whiskey and coke combo done yourself on one of our many tours!

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