Lonely Planet Writer

North Korea breaks new ground with first ever beer festival

North Korea broke new ground last week as it hosted its first ever beer festival in Pyongyang.

A waitress carries jugs of beer to guests before the opening of the Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival on the banks of the Taedong river in Pyongyang
A waitress carries jugs of beer to guests before the opening of the Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival on the banks of the Taedong river in Pyongyang Image by KIM WON-JIN/AFP/Getty Images

The Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival was held on the banks of the Taedon River and saw lines of waitresses dressed in white and blue uniforms serving guests large pitchers of beer. Pictures taken at the event offer a rare glimpse into the otherwise private country.

A general view of guests attending the opening of the Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival where they were served fried chicken and free beer.
A general view of guests attending the opening of the Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival where they were served fried chicken and free beer. Image by KIM WON-JIN/AFP/Getty Images

Reports from Chinese news agency CCTV+ say that the event attracted over 800 residents, tourists and foreign guests who were served snacks, fried chicken and free beer. The event is reportedly due to run for 20 days to promote Taedonggang beer, a home brewed larger from the region. North Korea first started brewing beer in 2002 after purchasing equipment from the United Kingdom and shipping it over.

 Choe Yong Nam, director of the General Bureau of Public Service who doubles as chairman of the preparatory committee for the festival, saying "cheers" with other officials after the opening ceremony of the Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival.
Choe Yong Nam, director of the General Bureau of Public Service who doubles as chairman of the preparatory committee for the festival, saying “cheers” with other officials after the opening ceremony of the Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival. Image by KIM WON-JIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Guests were also treated to musical performances and speeches on the night as North Korea celebrated the occasion of its very first beer festival.