Drinking Age in North Korea
Though it is not common to travel to North Korea, there is very seldom less than 100 foreigners in the country at any given time, you should have a bit of background on alcohol and drinking if you should have the chance to visit. The minimum legal drinking age is 18 years old and underage drinking is strongly discouraged and punished. North Korea has a culture rich with food and drink, including alcohol.
Available Alcohol in North Korea
In general, alcohol is not commonplace in North Korea other than for special holidays. Those who have money or power in government have it readily available but it is too expensive for the average person to buy. There are wines and liquors made under the control of the government but it is mainly for gifts to visiting dignitaries and sending to other countries to try and curry favor with them. The only time it is available for the locals is for holiday celebrations when it is handed out to each family. Keep in mind, it is not illegal to drink alcohol in North Korea, it is just too expensive to buy it. For this reason, most alcoholic beverages among the common people has been made at home.
Home-made wines are produced by fermenting fruits. There is also a vodka-like distilled liquor that has been infused with ginseng roots called insam-ju. It can be quite potent and should be drank with caution until you get used to it. The beverages sold in the local markets will be these home-made drinks. You will probably find them in jars with a cloth covering. Wines and liquor are available but people do not generally make beer at home.
If you do have the chance to go to a drinking establishment, keep in mind that the prices are going to be very expensive. Because you will not be permitted to wander around on your own, you should be prepared to buy for your guide as well. There will be a variety of beverages available to you, including a beer that is made at a North Korean brewery.
North Korean Laws
The laws in North Korea are very strict in regards to how people present themselves and their attitude towards anything North Korean. You are expected to remain courteous at all times and never say or imply anything negative about the country, its people, the government or leaders. You do not only have to worry about the police, there are spies everywhere and you should always expect to be bugged in some way. If you are drinking and start to get a bit mouthy or start talking in ways that are not approved, it is not only you who will be in trouble. Your guide or host will end up being punished worse than you are. You can count on spending time in jail, being deported and being banned from ever entering the country again. Your host will face time in jail, being sent to a labor camp and possibly torture. It might be a good idea to skip the drinking if you know you get a bit out of hand when you do.