A minty health-drink for stress relief. A kind of Facebook for North Korean mothers with parenting tips on the local intranet. A wondrous machine that, the inventors claim, will turn animal manure from farms into cheap electricity, charcoal, and gasoline. These are just a few of the business ideas pitched by teams of North Korean geeks to a group of entrepreneurs who recently travelled to the DPRK with Choson Exchange.
Much is unknown about Manbang - we looked on the Chinese web to see if the characters for "Manbang" mean "10,000 directions" or "10,000 broadcasts", but Chinese news sites didn't know and were just using Roman letters. We also don't know if new apartment, leisure or entertainment buildings will be wired for the kind of data that is needed for streaming television.
Choson Exchange organise trips for foreigners to run workshops to share our business expertise with Korean entrepreneurs, but when we are not teaching there is plenty of time to go out and explore for an evening. To be fair, Pyongyang could hardly be called a swinging city by night, and by 10pm the tower blocks are mostly dark with only a few back street snack and beer tents remaining open; but things are changing and year on year the range of entertainment options is growing fast.
The coffee is good, but the cafe also features a range of alcoholic beverages so if you're nervous for, um, whatever reason and need the calming influence of alcohol before a flight, they can help out also. Prices for coffee drinks aren't cheap, though. They're slightly more expensive than most airport coffeeshops around Asia.
Northern Korean Kimchi is amazing. It is healthy and flavoursome, both as a side dish and as an ingredient in savory pancakes, stews and fried rice.
Kimchi made the news last month in the DPRK, when Korean Worker's Party Chairman Kim Jong Un visited a new factory that produces the fiery pickle dish. (It is obligatory that all English-language articles about Kimchi describe it as 'fiery'.)
"Kimchi is one of the Korean nation's most favorite traditional dishes and it is well-known as one of the world's five health foods", he was quoted as saying.
The spaces for branding are still small in the DPRK, compared to many places, but seem to be expanding. Tina Kanagaratnam is the CEO of the Shanghai-based PR firm, Asia Media. At a Choson Exchange workshop in 2013 she was trying to explain to her students the relationship between PR and advertising and was struggling.