North Korean Wine

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North Korean Wine

Category : Food

Tensions are very high between North and South Korea right now, with chances of a political rapprochement appearing slim. Yet not that long ago, relations were good enough for a rail line to be built joining the 2 countries.

For almost a year, starting in December 2007, one freight train a day crossed the border, taking materials from the South to the Kaesong Industrial Region, and returning with North Korean goods. The line never carried passengers, and now looks like it never will, but the shiny, immaculate station of Dorasan still stands on the border, and some of those North Korean goods, the guides say, are still available at the souvenir stands in the waiting room.

It is tricky to get into the DMZ at this point, but a guided tour will give you half an hour or so to wander round Dorasan.  It looks just like a miniature airport building, complete with customs barriers for international arrivals and departures, and although it is standing empty everything is ready to go again at a moment’s notice. It demonstrates the apparent wish of South Korea for peace and a friendly relationship with their neighbours in the North.

And there are indeed some interesting items on sale at those souvenir stalls.

Never one to pass up a shopping opportunity and possible new taste experience, I snapped up some North Korean wine. It’s made from wild grapes, is ‘organic’ in that chemical fertilisers and pesticides are presumably hard to come by in the North, and has so many floating bits that it suggests they don’t have filters up there, either.

But never mind, this is not something you can pick up any time at the local off-licence.

When it came to sampling this, however, I was sadly disappointed. I mean, I wasn’t seriously expecting it to taste like a French wine, but I was hoping it would actually be drinkable. Unfortunately, the sealing process had failed – the screw top was not just loose but also impossible to remove without resorting to brute force and a knife.

I have no idea when this wine was bottled, but it had empathically not survived very long. The smell was atrocious, and a tiny drop convinced me that this was more like battery acid than wine and drinking it might be a really bad move. I’m afraid it went down the sink.

Still, as a curiosity, it was definitely worth a shot.


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Wine Lip Tint

Category : Beauty

wine lip 1 wine lip 3 wine lip 4

Sometimes it is all about the packaging, which is what attracted me to this cute miniature ‘wine bottle’ of lip tint as I passed a Tony Moly store in Macau. Happily, this particular product turned out to be a success in that it delivered as well as looking good, which was presumably why – of the half dozen different colours in the display, only 2 were still available.

It comes from Korean beauty firm Labiotte, which produces cosmetics made with natural ingredients combined with ‘state of the art dermatological technology’, and these ‘Chateau Labiotte’ lip tints contain actual wine extracts.

Among the 6 colours are Shiraz, Chardonnay, and the Merlot Burgundy which I bought. The packaging claims that the tint is long wearing and ‘dyes the lips with a bold yet delicate colour that resembles quality wine while moisturizing the lips’. From my sampling of the product in the store, I would add that you can even detect a subtle taste of wine.

Daughter #2 got in first with her feedback, and she has this to say: ‘I loved this lip tint. The bottle it comes in is adorable and the colour is fantastic! It is really easy to apply and the colour stays on for a very long time. You can increase intensity by applying more when the first layer has dried, but it does make your lips quite dry so you should carry a clear lip balm with you.’


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