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North Korean Leader Claims He Invented Hamburgers

July 8, 2004

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has introduced hamburgers to his reclusive, communist country in a campaign to provide “quality” food to university students, media reported Wednesday.

The hamburgers were introduced in 2000 and dubbed “gogigyeopbbang,” Korean for “double bread with meat,” according to the June 29 edition of the North Korean state-run newspaper Minju Joson. The report was carried by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency on Wednesday.

Although reports from the isolated country have in recent years mentioned the introduction of the American fast food classic, the latest announcement seems to credit the country’s leader for their advent.

The news marks a curious development for North Korea, where U.S. consumerism is routinely reviled in the official media and people refer to the soft drink Coca Cola as the “cesspool water of American capitalism.”

Wednesday’s report cites leader Kim Jong Il as saying at the time of the hamburger’s introduction: “I’ve made up my mind to feed quality bread and french fries to university students, professors and researchers even if we are in (economic) hardship.”

The government then built a hamburger plant and Kim Jong Il ordered officials to pay close attention to modernizing mass production, the report was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

Hamburgers from the factory were first provided only to students at the elite Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, but were later provided to other schools, the daily said.

Hamburgers are now familiar to many North Koreans, it added.

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