North Korean soju coming to the US?
SEOUL, South Korea - A traditional North Korean liquor that is clear and tastes smoother and sweeter than vodka is expected to hit the U.S. market as early as next month, a news report said Thursday.Tell me if I'm crazy, but wouldn't allowing these sales be a contradiction of US policy towards Pyongyang. Who is to say the Kim-il Jong is not the one profitting from the sale of North Korean Soju.
A New York-based Korean-American trader is importing the traditional Korean liquor called soju from communist North Korea for the first time, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the importer, Park Il U.
The report said the U.S. government has approved the import and the first shipment of Pyongyang Soju left North Korea last month. It is expected to arrive in the U.S. later this month and could be available in American stores next month, the report said.
Park Il U could not be reached for comment, and there was no immediate U.S. confirmation of the report.
Alcohol importation into the U.S. needs authorization from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Because North Korea is subject to U.S. sanctions, Park Il U would also need a license from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
North Korea is among the countries subject to the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act. Washington agreed in February to begin discussions with North Korea on removing it from the list, one of a series of economic and political concessions offered in exchange for the North's promise in an international agreement to start dismantling its nuclear program.
Soju is a popular liquor in both South and North Korea. It is generally distilled from rice combined with other ingredients such as sweet potatoes, wheat or barley. Usually clear in color, it resembles vodka in taste and ranges in alcohol content from about 20 percent to 45 percent.
In the U.S., soju is sold mostly in Korean markets and wine bars. It is also used as a popular cocktail base in restaurants in California and New York.
The liquor originated 5,000 years ago and its distillation method was introduced to Korea in the 13th century.
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