Made in North Korea is back once again! After exploring the world of toothpaste and mouthwash, today we’re going to focus on something a little less good for the teeth, that is soft drinks once again. Previously we had explored Ryongjin Cola but today we’re covering another brand we picked up in Pyongyang, that is what is described in Korean as “KoKoahyang Tansandanmul” or literally in English: “Cocoa Sparkling water”. Produced by the Ryomyong Corporation, also named after a famous residential area in the city, this drink is curious and unusual. Let’s kick on and evaluate Soft Drinks in North Korea!
First of all, as talked in the mouthwash article earlier this week, the naming of everyday products in the DPRK is strongly influenced by the political incentive to preserve purity in the Korean language and avoid where possible, avoiding foreign words. This has led to unusual names for items that seem to lack common sense. As a result, rather than importing names such as “Soda” or “Soft drink”, North Koreans use the term “Tansandanmul” which is literally “sparkling water” to describe such. This has led to almost every brand of domestically made soft drink incorporating this long and needless name. This product as you can tell us no exception.
So as usual, we always explore the connotations of the branding. Although the generic title limits it, again it seems to follow international standards in the creation of soft drinks. It has a colourful paper branding around the bottle, imagery, a catchy font to display the product name, a brand logo of the company that created it, a listing of the volume (500ML), some ingredients, as well as a bar and QR code. As a whole, it is marketed and presented exceptionally well. It also has on the top of the bottle, an expiry date. However, that expiry date is May 2019, despite the fact the product was purchased in June. This is a regular occurrence with North Korean products bought from stores, which may give us some indication about the level of demand and quality standards in the production and distribution of DPRK products. The country is changing, but it still isn’t like an everyday convenience store where they have both the supply and demand ratios to avoid having to sell off expired products.
Next as always, what does it taste like? Yes, mock us we are tasting an out of date of product, “ew” if you will. Opening it actually caused us some difficulties, the plastic which makes up the bottle is of a weaker quality than that used for international brands such as Coke, Pepsi, etc. This means when you try to open it you place your hand around it and you’re inadvertently squeezing the bottle inwards so easily, pushing the contents upwards if you try to remove the lid! There was as a result no way to do this without avoiding spillage! Now there’s a big flaw. So anyway, this drink literally tastes like fizzy chocolate water. South Korea’s Milkis was a surprise to many foreigners, but this is something completely new. It’s weird at first, yet surprisingly tasty and satisfying. The taste is strong to say the least and might not be for everyone.
So as a whole, what do we learn from this? Soft Drinks in North Korea are new and developing. Although the creators are attempting to copy international standards, there are still some major shortcomings in this product including the oddity of its name, a weak plastic bottle which you can’t open without spilling everyway, issues with the expiry date and of course the unique idea of a fizzy chocolate drink which might actually be a plus for some. Still, it’s new, innovative and exciting. They will get the hang of it over time!