Author: Sanjay Anandaram

Diplomacy Over Three Courses

Cesar Chavez, the Mexican American Presidential Medal of Honor awardee, and labour rights activist once famously said “if you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him — the people who give you their food give you their heart”. Having North Korean fare — spicier kimchi than in South Korea, naengmyeon or raengmyŏn, a cold buckwheat and sweet potato noodle dish, and soju, an alcoholic drink —at Pyongyang while being entertained by cultural performances from North Korea may be far easier and cheaper than actually travelling to the North Korean capital Pyongyang to savour the fare. There are over 100 North Korean restaurants — Pyongyang and Okryugwan — across Asia. These restaurants provide the much needed foreign currency to the reclusive ‘hermit kingdom’ through their noodle diplomacy or chopsticks diplomacy initiated after the collapse of their main supporter, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), in the early 1990s. Arguably, this has done more for North Korea than having eccentric former NBA star Dennis Rodman champion the country and its …