From the Korea Herald:
North Korea has introduced a Western coffee shop in Pyongyang, a source said Tuesday, the latest case of embracing foreign cuisine in a country grappling with chronic food shortages.I blame the Chinese. And by "blame them" I mean thank them for turning into crony capitalists themselves who want all the trappings of the West, and then letting them slowly but surely permeate into the DPRK.
The North has been struggling to keep outside influences from seeping into the isolated country out of fear that they could eventually pose a threat to leader Kim Jong-il’s autocratic rule.
The North has routinely called on its 24 million people to guard against Western influences, describing them as part of psychological warfare designed to topple the communist regime.
The government, however, has set up Western-style restaurants in partnership with foreign companies and an international relief agency since 2005, according to the source.
In October, a coffee shop opened inside a national museum near Kim Il-sung Square through an investment by Helmut Sachers Kaffee, an Austrian coffee producer and bakery supplier.
The Austrian company has trained North Korean staff to make coffee and bread, said the source.
A cup of coffee costs 2 euro, a price that is out of reach for ordinary North Koreans who make an average of 3,000 North Korean won a month. The North Korean won was traded at 134 won to one euro in November according to an official exchange rate, though the euro is believed to be much stronger in markets like the U.S dollar.
Sure, the North Korean hoi polloi won't be able to afford an espresso or — gasp! — a cafe americano (do you think they'd serve that?), but the elite will be able to. And those same elite (who now have 1 million cell phones) will demand more and more of the Western conveniences and comforts enjoyed by Chinese in Beijing. Or rather, they'll tolerate less and less inconvenience. And Kim Jong-il will stand there on the dais and dismiss their cries by saying, "Let them eat scones."
Seriously, this is the death knell of the regime, though not necessarily the republic itself.