So far as part of our “made in North Korea” series we have explored the production of smartphones and tablets in the DPRK. Now, we’re look at something different today, that is soft drinks! So in most countries in the world you go into a store and you see the typical scene of fridges lined with soft drinks and refreshments of every kind. But who thought for that matter believed that was the case in North Korea of all places? As the country’s economy continues to evolve and experiment with reform, the outcome has been the emergence of market trends and consumerism. This brings us to “Air Koryo Soda” a unique apple flavoured soft drink which bares the branding of the DPRK’s national airline Air Koryo; with the company seemingly moving out of its core industry and starting to explore conglomerate type behaviours. So we were luckily enough to try this drink! Let’s see what we make of it!
So as you can tell from the picture, Air Koryo soda is so well designed and branded that it resembles any typical soft drink product found in stores around the world, not reflecting the legacy at all of a socialist state. It has a solid green background, two clear juicy graphics of apples slapped upon it, the Air Koryo logo, wrote in Korean as “Goryeohanggong” and then the fun looking logo of the product itself titled “Sagwa tansandanmul” (Apple Sparkling Water). It has in the professional sense, a clear measurement of its container volume, a list of ingredients on the back, nutritional information and even a store barcode! In every sense, in terms of appearance and outward quality it does not lacking at all in global soft drink standards.
Then what about the inside? Having tried it, the drink has a strong and good flavour to it. It tastes like a legible and quality apple fizzy drink without a superficial, cheap or overly synthetic taste to it (which is typical of inexpensive soft drinks). Given this, just like the outside of the product; the inside has been manufactured with a clear commitment and eye towards developing a brand identity. The company were clearly very ambitious in creating this with a view to the long term. It’s not meant to scrap the bottom of the barrel of the target market and make a simple profit. Thus, it’s not “Tesco Value Cola“.
Thus for a simple soft drink, something easily took for granted in other parts of the world, it harbours big ambitions: Air Koryo don’t just want to be a standard service airline existing purely out of necessity, they want to be a real competitive brand which captures people’s imagination; mimicking South Korea’s path of development throughout the 1970s and 1980s. AK have produced other foodstuffs as well, which can be certainly covered on here in due time! But regardless, next time you are in the DPRK make sure you grab yourself an Air Koryo Soda! Coca Cola step inside, there’s a new drink in town!