9 Foods People Eat In North Korea Slideshow

9 Foods People Eat in North Korea

When it comes to food, North Korea's recent past has been tragic. The great famine of the 1990s, roughly between 1994 and 1998, caused the deaths of between 600,000 and 2.5 million individuals. Kim Jong-il, the leader at the time, both denied aid to the most at-risk regions until 1997 and punished those who attempted to buy, earn, smuggle, or steal food. A number of North Koreans still die of starvation every year, but many more suffer from insufficient diets. The divide between the wealthy and the poor in North Korea is significant, with the average citizen surviving on an annual income of $1,000 to $2,000 and frequenting foods like boiled rice, maize porridge, and kimchi, with little to no protein.

We've compiled a list of nine customary foods found in the North Korean diet. Take a peek inside an oft-isolated culture to see what typical food looks like for over 24 million citizens.

Injo Gogi Bap

This popular street food evolved from necessity due to the famine in the 1990s, when North Koreans couldn't allow food to go to waste. Leftover soybeans were made into sausages, and today, they're a popular delicacy served with spicy sauce and rice.


A staple of the North Korean diet, usually consumed daily, kimchi is a fermented dish consisting of cucumbers or cabbage soaked in brine made from chiles, garlic, and ginger, and sometimes made with bean paste.

Maize Porridge

Porridge made with corn is a common breakfast staple in North Korea.


Cold noodles, called naengmyun, are part of a common North Korean meal. They are made with wheat, buckwheat, and potatoes.


This North Korean barbecue dish often served in restaurants is marinated meat, which customers grill themselves inside the eatery over a charcoal fire or small gas stove.


Dinner at a restaurant in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, typically costs between $7 and $40 depending on the venue. But these are prohibitive prices for all but the wealthiest North Koreans. Sinseollo, a typical restaurant menu item, consists of raw vegetables, meat, and dumplings. The customer is provided with a pan of water and a coal fire in order to cook their own meal.


Although the wealthiest North Koreans can afford to import alcohol, the average citizen drinks soju, a rice wine with a 23 percent ABV that's also for sale in the United States.


Soondae is both a street food and North Korea's version of blood sausage, which is usually made with fresh ginger, sesame seeds, and beef or pork small intestine.

Tofu Bap

Another North Korean street food, this dish is tofu stuffed with rice.