중앙데일리

Fried chicken franchise goes North

Nov 03,2007
South Koreans are making two very different attempts to improve the culinary life of impoverished North Koreans.
First, a South Korean fried chicken franchise will open the only foreign-run restaurant in North Korea, targeting family dining on special occasions.
Second, the labor union of a South Korean conglomerate has built a plant in Pyongyang to provide cheap corn noodles to northerners who suffer from food shortages.
Choi Won-ho, who runs Matdaero, a 70-store fried chicken franchise in the South, said yesterday he would open a restaurant in a joint venture with a North Korean state-run trading company, near the Arch of Triumph in central Pyongyang on Nov. 15.
The restaurant will both receive walk-in customers and deliver chicken and draft beer to homes. Such places are common in South Korea, but it will be the first chicken joint of its kind in North Korea.
Choi has invested 500 million won ($551,000) in the restaurant’s cooking facilities, interior decoration and delivery scooters. He will split the profit 70-30 with the North Korean firm.
Choi, 48, who has been a chicken entrepreneur for 15 years, said there should be sufficient demand despite North Korea being one of the world’s poorest countries, because he plans to offer lower prices to locals.
“I will charge about $3 for a whole chicken for North Koreans and at least $12, the same price as in South Korea, for tourists from the South and other countries,” Choi said yesterday by phone. “One whole chicken will be enough for a four-member family, so the price of $3 will not be too burdensome for special occasions.”
The store will hire about 20 North Koreans to take telephone orders, fry the birds and make home deliveries. It will have seating for 50.
Separately, the labor union of Hyundai Motor Company, Korea’s top automaker, said in a statement that it has completed an 1,800-square-meter corn-noodle plant in Pyongyang. The plant can produce two tons of corn noodles a day, it said.
Hyundai Motor’s 44,000 unionized workers agreed in August to help a South Korean humanitarian group build the noodle factory. Workers donated about 12,000 won each, 500 million won in total, for the facility.
“The plant will be a great help to relieve the food problems of North Koreans,” Chang Kyu-ho, a spokesman for the labor union, said. “Corn is a staple food for North Koreans.”



By Moon So-young Staff Writer [symoon@joongang.co.kr]



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