North Korea Mysteriously Shuts Down Its Beer Festival

Jul 25, 2017
Originally published on July 25, 2017 12:00 pm

If an event is branded as annual but it happens only once, can it still be called annual? This is the case for Pyongyang's "annual" Taedonggang Beer Festival, the second of which was slated to take place during August.

China-based tour company Koryo Tours, which is among the go-to tour groups organizing trips into North Korea, writes on its blog that it was "informed" North Korean organizers have canceled the event.

"The reason for the cancellation is unclear and we don't expect full information to be forthcoming but it is possibly down to the ongoing drought in the country that has caused a great deal of trouble," Koryo writes.

According to Koryo, last year's event was a good opportunity to try some local brews and mingle with locals. A menu from the 2016 fest shows several types of draft beers, fried chicken and mutton on a stick available for purchase. North Korean alcohol is a curiosity for many connoisseurs around the globe, especially given its announcement last year that its scientists have invented "hangover-free booze."

While it may suffer the label of "Hermit Kingdom," North Korea does want tourism, offering surfing, rice planting and history tours. As Hawaii Public Radio found, "You can join the 'Liberation from the Japanese Empire' package tour — 8 days and 7 nights next month over the dates marking Japan's surrender in World War Two."

But forget about it if you're an American passport holder. The U.S. State Department will announce a travel ban to North Korea for all Americans later this week. It follows the detainment of 22-year-old college student Otto Warmbier, who returned home last month in a coma and died days later.

Over the past 10 years, at least 16 Americans have been detained in North Korea.

Jihye Lee contributed to this post.

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