• Kyodo

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North Korea on Friday kicked off its first beer festival, in line with leader Kim Jong Un’s promise to improve living standards and build a “highly civilized nation” despite being under international sanctions for its pursuit of nuclear arms.

The festival featuring Taedonggang beer, one of the most popular brands in North Korea, will run through early September on a restaurant boat floating on the Taedong, a major river that runs through the heart of Pyongyang and for which the beer was named, and in areas nearby.

The event, featuring draft beer, food, music performances and games, is also open to foreign tourists.

With temperatures reaching as high as 34 C (93 F), local people, who packed the venue in the evening, were emptying beer mugs quickly.

“Drinking beer like on this hot day is so refreshing. It can get rid of tiredness after a day’s work,” said Song Myong Chol, 34. “Above all, Taedonggang beer is super.”

The production of the beer started in 2002 after North Korea purchased a defunct British brewery, which was dismantled and brought to Pyongyang.

The locally brewed beer, which is also available at some overseas North Korean restaurants, has seven types.

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