Kwangbok Department Store

Completed in 1991, the Kwangbok Department Store is the first of its kind in the DPRK. It is located in a wealthy neighborhood in west Pyongyang, and most of the customers that come here are from a higher class. It is one of the few markets that is outfitted to accept the new North Korean debit card system, and no, Visa and Mastercard do not work here.  The market accepts foreign currencies such as the USD, Euro, and RMB, for those that do not have one of these rare cards. Before the market was constructed, when citizens went shopping they had to order from a catalog and then have the items delivered to them in store. Now they can browse the huge selection of goods ranging from American beer, $400 dollar dresses, high heels, and leather couches, handpicking what they want to buy. The market is stocked with an overwhelming amount of Chinese made goods, a side effect of its co-ownership with the Chinese trade company,  Feihaimengxin International Trade Co. Locally made goods are available such as clothes, produce, and a huge selection of domestic alcohols. Imported goods from around the world are available as well, at a high markup that many Koreans are willing to pay. Escalators shuttle customers around the 3 floors available to the public, each floor stocked with specialized goods or services. The 1st floor has electronics and cosmetics locked behind glass cases. The 2nd floor has clothes, furniture, and other household goods.  A dining area and playground are located on the 3rd floor to help complete the full family outing that many western consumers are familiar with. This store has gotten the world’s attention for being the last known public appearance of Kim Jong Il, as he prepared for his son’s succession by gearing the country more toward a consumer orientated economy, despite the country’s communist roots.