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.
Our top 5 North Korean souvenirs
5. North Korean soju, beer, cigarettes
An easy but effective North Korean souvenir. Soju, beer and cigarettes are available in all hotels, restaurants and gift shops throughout the DPRK. The most famous beer being Taedonggang beer. A crisp flavor that beats any beer you’d find in South Korea or China. Canned North Korean beer is available at the Kwangbok department store which can make bringing it all the way back home a lot easier due to its durability and light weight.
There are literally hundreds of different types of North Korean soju to choose from but we’d recommend any that come in a small plastic bottle as it’ll fit snugly into your backpack or suitcase. The plastic bottle does not compromise on quality as this idea was first introduced to the North Koreans for hiking purposes. Although your family may not approve of your journey to the hermit kingdom, at least they may approve of you bringing back North Korea’s finest drop.
North Korean cigarettes are also quite the novelty. They range from very cheap to European prices. The most fancy are the 7.27 Victory cigarettes for 40 RMB a pack. These are recommended and smoked by Kim Jong Un himself.
All of the suggested gift ideas above are cheap and can be purchased with local DPRK won at the supermarket which the majority of our tours visit. Prices range from 1 RMB up to 50 RMB
4. North Korean books, magazines, newspapers
At the Pyongyang Foreign Language Bookstore you’ll be spoilt for choice on the sheer amount of reading materials 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. We recommend Anecdotes of Kim Jong Il for some entertaining reading when you have mates pop over for the evening back home or give the North Korean dialect a go whilst you’re in the country by picking up a ‘Let us speak Korean’ phrase book.
The Pyongyang Times newspaper is also available in English which we believe is an essential purchase to mark the date of your trip to Pyongyang. Korea Today pictorial magazine offers news on the latest in North Korea with print outs of Kim Jong Un doing on the spot guidance somewhere. Prices range from around 40 RMB.
3. North Korean tracksuits
One of the most impressive ways we’ve discovered to be an incredible ice breaker when meeting North Korean locals. The official DPRK tracksuits worn by local athletes competing overseas. This is guaranteed to make those around you smile, high five or even offer you a beer if you’re seen wearing this. These beauties can be purchased for 400 RMB at the DPRK sports clothing store located inside the lobby of the Sosan Hotel.
2. North Korean suit
One way of showing off your recent visit to North Korea is to rock up to your first business conference or to your classroom sporting a tailored North Korean suit. Here’s our full guide on having your very own suit tailored for you. Tailors are available at the Sosan Hotel, Yanggakdo Hotel, Koryo Hotel, and the Changgwangsan Hotel. Suits can vary around 800 RMB to 1500 RMB depending on your style and tend to take up to three days minimum to make.
1. North Korean Posters
The North Korean souvenirs of choice for many tourists visiting North Korea, and it’s not hard to see why. These propaganda posters are hand painted and produced in North Korea from independent local artists. Different styles of propaganda are available throughout the country.
Posters found at the Pyongyang Foreign Language Bookstore mostly have propaganda promoting the economy of the nation or Pyongyang traffic girls. The souvenir shop down at the DMZ have the military propaganda posters showing the Korean People’s Army aggressively crushing imperialists forces. The art shop found in Chongjin, Wonsan and Sinuiju have posters showing team work and single hearted unity comrades doing their best for their nation.
Costs of posters can go as low as 200 RMB and up to 600 RMB depending on the size, quality and rarity. If you have already decided to purchase a poster before entering North Korea, we recommend bringing cardboard postage roll with you to help transport your posters back home safely without any unwanted crinkles in your luggage.
Nothing says I’ve been to North Korea like having a poster centrepiece of living room with a North Korean missile blowing up the US White House.