brahim habibzahmani
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Celebrating and Surviving in North Korea

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

North Koreans have also always enjoyed homemade moonshine, or nongtaegi. For the majority – especially those in the countryside with little or no disposable income – this remains the only option. Typically, homebrewing will be rudimentary, using corn, fruit or ginseng left to ferment in a bottle or jar, and buried under a pile of clothes for warmth.

A world away in the capital Pyongyang, the growing elite means that new bars and restaurants are springing up all the time. There are several microbrewery bars that produce their own lagers and ales on site.

Interviews with defectors also suggest that North Koreans are not serious consumers of marijuana. The drug of choice is, in fact, something much more pernicious: crystal meth. …Meth, known colloquially as eoreum or bingdu (both mean “ice”, a name by which the drug is also known in the US) is a drug unfortunately suited to the…

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