|Revised Romanization||Daedonggang maekju|
Taedonggang is a brand of North Korean beer brewed by the state-owned Taedonggang Brewing Company based in Pyongyang. There are four brands of beer marketed as Taedonggang, though the brand known simply as "Taedonggang Beer" is that described below.
In 2000, the North Korean government decided to acquire a brewery. At that point having good relationships with the West, via connections to Germany the Government of North Korea bought the intact and still in place brewery plant of the closed Ushers of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England for £1.5M via broker Uwe Oehms. Concerned it could be used for chemical weapons production, after assurances Peter Ward, of brewing company Thomas Hardy Brewing and Packaging bought the plant, and arranged for a team from North Korea to travel to Trowbridge to dismantle it. Reinstalled and operational from 2002, the brewery uses German-made computerized brewing control technology. Since then, North Korea has had a steady supply of beer.
On July 3, 2009, a commercial for the product was broadcast on state-run Korean Central Television in a rare move, as there are very few advertisements on North Korean television. The commercial shows technicians sampling the beer and beer bottles floating in space, shooting out foam reminiscent of a missile launch. North Korea's Taepodong missiles are sometimes called "Taedong" missiles. The commercial has been broadcast three times in all.
Since 2016, the beer has been available in China in limited stock.
Reviews of the four distinct styles of Taedonggang beer currently produced are somewhat mixed. The most widely available Pilsner style lager is described by The New York Times as a "full-bodied lager a little on the sweet side, with a slightly bitter aftertaste" and "one of the highest quality beers on the [Korean] peninsula for several years". The BBC's Korea correspondent Steven Evans in a September 2016 review notes "an OK beer, a bit bland to my palate more used to magnificent British bitter - a bit too much like ghastly, dishwater, mass-produced American beer, in my opinion."
In mid-2007, however, availability of Taedonggang beer in South Korea began to lessen and it is widely believed now that it is no longer being imported into the country, after the brewery increased the price 70% without warning.
Inside North Korea, it is reported to be the most popular brand of beer, according to expatriates living in the country and it is easily found at restaurants and bars. It can also be found in Pyongyang hotels for foreigners, where prices for a small bottle of Taedonggang cost about half a euro, or 75 U.S. cents in 2008.
- Taedonggang Brewery Ratebeer
- "How Ushers' Trowbridge brewery is now the toast of North Korea". Wiltshire Times. 2009-07-05. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
- Bärtås, Magnus; Ekman, Fredrik (2014). Hirviöidenkin on kuoltava: Ryhmämatka Pohjois-Koreaan [All Monsters Must Die: An Excursion to North Korea] (in Finnish). Translated by Eskelinen, Heikki. Helsinki: Tammi. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-951-31-7727-0.
- In apparent first, North Korea airs beer commercial on state TV. Los Angeles Times. July 3, 2009
- North Korea launches beer advert. BBC News Online. July 3, 2009
- N.Korea Ends Experiment with TV Commercials. The Chosun Ilbo. November 9, 2009
- Lee Jin-a (28 April 2016). "N. Korean beer sale in China". koreatimes. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
- Evans, Steven (12 September 2016). "Sneaking a taste of North Korea's finest beer". BBC News. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
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