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Sporkful Penetrates North Korea (And Tries A Mysterious Drink)

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Jul 07, 2011

We've got a fair number of South Korean listeners in our international audience of Eaters, though the numbers fluctuate. But we know exactly how many listeners we have from North Korea: zero, just as we predicted. It's kinda hard to break through in a place where there is little in the way of freedom to go online or food.

But the other day, we got as close as we can possibly get. A friend Gabe was in South Korea for work, and his travels took him to the demilitarized zone between North and South. That's the actual dividing line in the DMZ you see in one of his pictures here.

On sale in the DMZ gift shop? (C'mon, of course it has a gift shop.) The bottle you see here. Naturally, I couldn't wait to try it. So how does it taste? And what is it?

As far as I can tell by some googling, it's Paektusan Tuljjuksul. Only a few North Korean bottles are sold at the DMZ, and what I drank tastes somewhat like this physicist describes:

Pale brown, with a reddish tinge. I thought this tasted like rice liquor with a strange sweetish overtone, rice liquor flavoured with something. But apparently claims to be made from 100% gathered-in-the-wild tuljjuk berries. Strongly flavoured, with a pleasant sweet aftertaste, it's not bad at all, very nice even, though it won't be to everybody's tastes.

But I'm not sure since I don't read Korean, so we'll need a little help on this one. Korean-speaking Sporkful Eaters (we know you're out there), please translate and tell what you know about this liquid in the comments. /mark

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