North Korea has opened its first “authentic” Italian restaurant on the orders of its leader, Kim Jong-Il, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper said Saturday.
The Chosun Sinbo, often seen as a mouthpiece for North Korea’s communist regime, said the restaurant had proved to be a major hit after it opened in the capital Pyongyang in December.
“I’ve learned through TV and books that pizza and spaghetti are among the world’s famous dishes, but this is the first time that I’ve tasted it,” Jung Un-Suk, 42, told the newspaper, which is published in Japan.
“They have unique flavours,” she said.
Impoverished North Korea has chronic food shortages and suffered a famine in the late 1990s that by some estimates killed one million people.
The newspaper said the North Korean state bought wheat flour, butter and cheese in Italy for the restaurant.
The restaurant’s manager said Kim had also sent its cooks to Naples and Rome for training after they committed “errors” in their efforts to reproduce authentic Italian cuisine.
Visitors to and escapees from North Korea have in the past commented on its leader’s fondness for fine dining.
In 2004, the BBC ran an interview with an Italian chef who had taught pizza-making skills to three North Korean army officers so they could cook for the country’s leader.