After you have brushed your teeth on the morning, there is seldom anything better to top it up with than a mouthful of listerine or other popular brand mouthwashes. However, could you imagine that catching on in North Korea? Isn’t that only something for developed countries? Well today as part of our “Made in DPRK” series we are going to explore what might be the first ever variety of North Korean Mouthwash, again obtained readily at the Kwangbok Department Store!The product, titled “Bakhahamsuyak” literally translates to “Mint flavour water medicine”- which is a curious title in Korean language itself. Below, we’ll evaluate the product more, discover why this is and explore the ins and outs!
First of all, why on earth would you call a mouthwash “Water medicine?“- such a term is vague and bizarre. In contrast, in South Korea popular mouthwash brands are not only transcribed into English, but also have their respective names incorporated into Hangeul. North Korea’s politics however, is different. Here, there has been more emphasis on preserving traditional Korean language for political purposes along with a wider disconnect from the west which as a whole has saw less foreign words imported than their southern counterparts. The result is that often in everyday life, North Korean names for new products and things are created by putting together existing Korean terms than relying exclusively on its foreign counterpart name. This means that locally produced mouthwash has effectively been termed “Water Medicine” than to add the English word into the Korean vocabulary.
So that explains the name of the product, but what about the details of this North Korean mouthwash? Firstly again the product strives to copy international marketing styles in how it is presented. The product comes in a bottle which reflects a familiarity to international mouthwash products in not only its shape, but its colour too, the liquid coming in a skyblue colour. Not only that, but the creators, representing the DPRK company “Sinbaram” also understood the significance of adding a flavour to the product too. We might go further by noting that the choice of “Mint” is also popular amongst international brands, it represents something cool, strong and refreshing with the design of course to clean one’s mouth and breath. Thus as we have seen frequently throughout our series, there is a good pre-existing knowledge behind the manufacture product.
Now of course, how does it taste like? We had a try. First as a minor note, the lid was not made like international mouthwash brands in having an enlarged size to pose as a mini container for a serving. Instead, the lid as you may note, is akin to the ones used by soft drink and water bottles. On trying it, the mouthwash was less uncomfortable in the mouth than what Listerine would be, the latter of which somewhat “burns” your tongue if being kept in too long. There was a feeling that its flavour was more organic and more authentically mint and was less reliant on artificial flavours. The product worked in removing traces of lunch stuck to the teeth. Afterwards, the fresh taste of the mint lingered considerably and actually in a better way than popular brands do!
So finally, this was a pleasant surprise to try out. This North Korean mouthwash is a product made in the DPRK which actually offers something seemingly better than its well established and resource superior international competitors. Whilst the name makes it a bit bizarre and local-centric, its nevertheless something innovative, organic and strangely enough, refreshing! Who would have thought it! So next time you’re on a North Korean tour you might want to try it out!