Whilst in an ideal world, everyone would decide to join us for the festival and come drink beer with us there, we do appreciate that coming to North Korea isn’t on everyone’s horizons. Thus, we have compiled a list of the 5 best places outside of North Korea to procure this (unfortunately) very rarely exported beer.
#5. Dodgy old ladies by the riverfront in Dandong
For those of us that have lived in China for long enough, the site of the dodgy grandma selling crap on the road can be a godsend. From socks to sim cards, grandma has it all. On the riverfront between Dandong and Sinuiju—the main border between China and North Korea—she can be a particular godsend. She has North Korean money, cigarettes, and—if you’re lucky—bottles of our favorite beer for as little as 30 RMB.
#4. Dodgy border shops in Linjiang
Ah, how we do love a dodgy border post—and North Korea and China have a lot of them! We love it so much we even designed a tour based solely on visiting these interesting spots. This particular shop and others like it are usually situated within a 5 minute walk from the border and while they look like a standard mom-and-pop Chinese shop, once you get inside they’re more like an Aladdin’s cave of North Korean stuff. Bottle prices depend on your skill at negotiating, and if you’re not in the mood for beer, then NK Soju is also readily available.
#3. LiuJing Hotel, Yanji, China
Our absolute favorite when it comes to North Korean hotels in China (although there aren’t that many, to be fair). Not only is the staff fully North Korean, but the hotel also has great food, a night time singing and dancing show, and is a great place to stop on your way to Rason in North Korea. While they only have the beer about half the time, even if they don’t have it when you go the Asahi on tap will be enough to quench your thrirst.
#2. The DMZ Bar, Yangshuo, China
Okay, maybe we’re a bit biased here, but ask around and those who’ve been can attest to the awesomeness of The DMZ Bar as well. When we went all out and decided to start a North Korean bar, it was obvious that we would have to somehow import and stock Taedonggang Beer. It took a while, but usually we now have the beer in stock. Sometimes we manage to hit up some dodgy suppliers, but mostly it gets carried out and transported thousands of miles by our trusted staff. Okay, it costs 50 RMB a bottle—but it is officially the only bar in the world outside the DPRK where you can drink it.
#1. Pyongyang Restaurant Franchise (Beijing Embassy branch)
While the Pyongyang Restaurant franchise is famous for having branches all over the world entertaining people with North Korean dancers, singing waitresses, delicious food, and lots of soju—a good proportion of the restaurants rarely (or never) stock Taedonggang beer, tending to opt for Chinese or local varieties. One that bucks this trend is our secret little franchise situated a stones throw from the North Korean Embassy on Ritan North Road in Beijing which not only have the beer, but also the export standard in the funky little bottles.