Taps Turned off for N.Korea's Beer Festival

Tom Kim, July 25, 2017, 9:24 a.m.


North Korea has abruptly canceled a beer festival that was to show the belligerent country's capital of Pyongyang in a fuzzier light starting Wednesday.

The festival had been widely promoted by the state media and tour agencies, but apparently there was not enough to drink.

Koryo Tours in China, which specializes in tours to North Korea, said on its blog on Sunday, "Sadly today we have been informed that the 2017 Pyongyang Beer Festival has been canceled. The reason for the cancellation is unclear and we don't expect full information to be forthcoming but it is possibly down to the ongoing drought in the country that has caused a great deal of trouble."

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said recently that North Korea is suffering its worst drought since 2001, and harvests have declined more than 30 percent compared to last year.

But Unification Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun here said Monday, "This may be related to strengthened international sanctions." 

The Pyongyang Beer Festival, modeled after Germany's Oktoberfest, was the brainchild of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The first was held in August last year and lasted about a month.

At the time, North Korea's state television hailed the event as reflecting life in Pyongyang, "a paradise on earth."

Foreign media also covered the event and evaluated the quality of North Korea's official Taedonggang beer. The beer was created in 2001, after then leader Kim Jong-il visited a Russian brewery and ordered his workers to develop a top-notch brew. 

North Korea bought a brewery in the U.K. and brought the equipment over to Pyongyang. In 2012, The Economist created a minor stir by saying Taedonggang "tastes surprisingly good," and better than "boring" South Korean beer.



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