I’ve always enjoyed the North Koreans, ever since I first saw the stone-faced diplomats observing United Nations sessions in Geneva, where I was attending the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea for the Reagan administration (another story!). I was even able to visit North Korea in 1992 and found it to be a Potemkin country–an airport without airplanes, roads without cars, streets without street signs, etc. The sort of place every political junkie should visit.
North Korea has opened its first “authentic” Italian restaurant on the orders of its leader, Kim Jong-Il, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper said Saturday.
The Chosun Sinbo, often seen as a mouthpiece for North Korea’s communist regime, said the restaurant had proved to be a major hit after it opened in the capital Pyongyang in December.
“I’ve learned through TV and books that pizza and spaghetti are among the world’s famous dishes, but this is the first time that I’ve tasted it,” Jung Un-Suk, 42, told the newspaper, which is published in Japan.
“They have unique flavours,” she said.
Impoverished North Korea has chronic food shortages and suffered a famine in the late 1990s that by some estimates killed one million people.
The newspaper said the North Korean state bought wheat flour, butter and cheese in Italy for the restaurant.
The restaurant’s manager said Kim had also sent its cooks to Naples and Rome for training after they committed “errors” in their efforts to reproduce authentic Italian cuisine.
“General Kim Jong-Il said that the (North Korean) people should also be allowed access to the world’s famous dishes,” the newspaper quoted manager Kim Sang-Soon as saying.
“He then called for the establishment of a restaurant specialising in Italian food,” the manager said.
Visitors to and escapees from North Korea have in the past commented on its leader’s fondness for fine dining.
I’m a great fan of Italian food, so I guess this gives me another reason to visit again. I share the late Great Leader’s birthday, so I keep hoping for an invitation to join in the annual celebrations. I could have a pizza while learning more about the paradise he created.
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