Communism Provides Pizza for the Masses - Or at Least the Communist Party Elite:

North Korea may have the most oppressive government on earth, and its people may be starving as a result of horrendous communist policies. But the North Korean proletariat was surely thrilled to learn that their Dear Leader Kim Jong Il has thoughtfully provided "authentic" Italian pizza for a few of his most privileged subjects. And it only took a mere ten years to achieve this triumph of socialist central planning:

It has taken almost 10 years of work, but North Korea has acquired the technology to launch a project very dear to its leader's heart - the nation's first "authentic" Italian pizzeria.

The launch of Pyongyang's first Italian restaurant meanwhile brings to fruition a ten-year effort by Kim Jong-il - a renowned gourmand and lover of western food - to create the perfect pizza and pasta in his homeland.

Last year a delegation of local chefs was sent by Kim to Naples and Rome to learn the proper Italian techniques after their homegrown efforts to mimic Italian cuisine were found by Kim to contain "errors".

In the late 1990s Kim brought a team of Italian pizza chefs to North Korea to instruct his army officers how to make pizza, a luxury which is now being offered to a tiny elite able to afford such luxuries in a country that cannot feed many of its 24 million inhabitants.

Although the news story isn't clear on this point, I suspect that the access to the Pyongyang Italian pizzeria is limited to those with special privileged status given by the government, as was standard for stores providing unusual goods in most communist societies.

On the upside, Kim Jong Il's plan to provide pizza for the toiling masses of North Korea seems to have worked out better than his earlier plan to alleviate food shortages by breeding imported giant rabbits, which was aborted when the greedy Dear Leader decided to eat the initial batch of rabbits himself.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. North Korea - A Real-Life 1984:
  2. Communism Provides Pizza for the Masses - Or at Least the Communist Party Elite:

North Korea - A Real-Life 1984:

In a more serious vein than my last North Korea post, it is worth noting that North Korea's social structure more closely approximates that of George Orwell's 1984 than even the Stalin-era Soviet Union. For example, the entire North Korean population is rigorously sorted into three categories: "Core" (trusted supporters of the regime), "wavering," and "hostile." The "hostiles" make up some 25% percent of the population and are ruthlessly discriminated against in every aspect of life, as North Korea expert Kongdan Oh explains at the above link:

An individual's political loyalty is likely to be re-examined anytime he or she comes to the attention of the authorities, for example when being considered for a job, housing, or travel permit. One's political classification is not a matter of public knowledge, nor is it known to the individual, but it is recorded in the personal record that follows every North Korean throughout life, and of course becomes part of the record of that person's children and relatives as well.

Only people classified as politically loyal can hope to obtain responsible positions in North Korean society. People classified as members of the wavering class are unlikely to be considered for membership in the Korean Workers Party. People who fall into the hostile class are discriminated against in terms of employment, food, housing, medical care, and place of residence.

Belonging to a minority religious group or being a relative of an "enemy of the people" automatically puts you in the "hostile" category.

This tripartite division of the population is very similar to that of 1984, where the people were divided into the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the downtrodden Proles. Of course, this is no coincidence. After all, Orwell's fictional Oceania was modeled on Stalin's USSR, and the same can be said of today's North Korean regime. However, even the Soviet government never classified the entire population quite as rigidly as North Korea does.