North Korea – Beyond borders

North Korea does manufacture cosmetics and personal care products and might eventually become a new market for international players

North Korea’s burgeoning cosmetics industry is growing but is still dominated by western imports. Mark Rowe reports

While it is always sensible to handle reports emerging from North Korea with care, it appears undeniable that the country does manufacture cosmetics and other personal care products and could, if current hopes of liberalisation are ultimately realised, become a new market for international players.

Of course, this is not a country known for encouraging its citizens to express much individuality, and diplomatic reports have even documented North Koreans resorting to purchasing Chinese detergents and laundry liquid on the black market. But late last year the state owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) – a classic Soviet style propaganda unit – announced to the world that the country’s Pyongyang based Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory had developed sufficiently to produce a subtle range of face creams, lotions and hair treatments made from mineral water, Kaesong Koryo insam (ginseng) essence and assorted herbs.

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