Women rock out 'Pyongyang Style' at restaurant

By Matt Hodges ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-04-20 15:52:46

Second, the expected side dishes of saber-rattling anti-US propaganda never really materialized. My friend's wife ate in one of the private rooms a few weeks earlier and found herself treated to a rhetoric-rich anti-imperialist speech. In that respect, we all left disappointed and undernourished. We were also banned from taking photos, but the same rule didn't apply to the table of Chinese next to us. They were granted two each.

Women rock out 'Pyongyang Style' at restaurant

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Women rock out 'Pyongyang Style' at restaurant

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If the restaurant is a fair reflection of local life, here's what to expect of any trip to its capital: Guitar-strumming rock dudettes who belt out inspirational songs from the Rocky soundtrack, no cult-of-personality images of its leaders, and bottles of soju that cost 10 times more (from 168 yuan to over 700 yuan) than they do in Seoul. Beer is considerably cheaper.

The Korean food is middle-of-the-road and fairly expensive. The menu contains a mishmash of barbecued meat and grilled fish, Japanese sushi, and standard Chinese dishes and soups. About 700 yuan could get a party of two decently fed and rosy-cheeked if you order the cheapest liquor.

But no trip here would be complete without viewing the 7 pm show, which features an ensemble cast of stiletto-wearing beauties, and ends with dancers in traditional dresses dragging patrons onstage for a few awkward but well-intended pirouettes. Amid all this, the saxophone rendition of Rod Stewart's We Are Sailing came as a surprise.

The 30-minute show was not always easy on the ears. Instead of barbed anti-American lyrics, there were fluffy songs about climbing mountains. One middle-aged Chinese man at a neighboring table summed it up fairly succinctly. "Just... weird," he said.

This place is not a clone of Pyongyang. There are no men on the staff, for example, and plenty of pasted-on smiles. The folk songs seemed like the musical equivalent of bibimbap, the south's favorite mixed-rice dish. They were part-Peking Opera, part trot.

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