When it comes to food and North Korea the lines get blurry. Many do not know that not only do they have a great cuisine, but North Korea street food is not just a thing, but it is damned good.
Socialism and Street Food
Despite being a hearty working class style of food, street cuisine is also somewhat petit bourgeois in that it is traditionally done as a private enterprise, as well as often being out of the control of the state, or those collecting taxes.
Therefore North Korean street food has gone from a place of pretty much not existing at all, to slowly growing into something quite good. This has occurred during the same period that private markets have also become more of a thing.
Nowadays you can indeed find North Korean street food in a mixture of both state run and private enterprises.
Where are the street food specialties in North Korea?
North Korean street food is very unique and not at all the same as the eclectic mix that you will find in the south. Burgers and hot dogs are very much a thing for the North Korean street food scene now, with North Korean burgers very much deserving their own article…..
Street food can thus very much be operated by region in North Korea, with Pyongyang boasting both markets and supermarkets, such as Kwanbok, which as well as street food, also offers fine North Korean street beer.
In places near the coast such as Chongjin and Rason it is all about seafood, with the sea urchin eaten raw being one of my favorites of the former, while the fare at the market of the later are what set my world alight.
The 5 Best North Korean Street foods
The North Korean Hamburger – No Kim Jong Il did not say he invented it, nor are we talking about the Air Koryo Burger, but the stuff you get at Kwanbok, or the fun fair. Really good stuff and worth the try…
Talpi – AKA Beer Fish – You will see this quite literally everywhere, or at least everywhere there is beer. I swear Koreans have this as much as kimchi. Great mixed with vegan and wasabi and even available in Dandong.
Nampo Clam BBQ – Now whilst most people would not say they need more gasoline in their diet, this is exactly what you get here. Usually eaten at the Nampo hot-springs resort, you can also have it at Nampo beach. The petrol quite literally opens up the clams and this is a must when you visit the DPRK.
The Mystery Sausage – This was clearly borrowed from China and whilst it is ed it really is no PNG style saveloy. Turning up seemingly everywhere in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea right now. It is cheap it is sturdy and it is meat – WARNING profanely not Halal.
Craft Beer in North Korea – OK so not exactly food, but makes our street food North Korea list because you can quite literally have it on the street. Amazingly North Korean craft beer is readily available cheap and some of the best available in East Asia.
And that’s our take on North Korean street food, by A Street Food Guy who actually visits North Korea.