North Korea now has its first-ever pizzeria. The Guardian reports:
An obsession with pizza stretching back at least 10 years prompted the isolated nation's dictator, Kim Jong-il, to authorise North Korea's first Italian restaurant, which opened in December, according to a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published in Japan. "General Kim Jong-il said that the people should also be allowed access to the world's famous dishes," the restaurant's manager, Kim Sang-Soon, was quoted as saying in Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper seen as a mouthpiece for the regime.
In a lengthy three-part series for Asia Times in 2001 (1, 2, 3), Italian pizzaiolo Ermanno Furlanis writes about his experience being brought to North Korea to train Kim Jong-il's chefs how to make pizza, with students at one point measuring the distance between olives Furlanis placed on his pizzas.
The training seems not to have met Kim's expectations. According to Choson Sinbo, subsequent efforts to reproduce Italian pizza in North Korea were a process of "repeated trial and error", and last year the dictator sent chefs to Naples and Rome to learn more. Finally satisifed, he authorised the restaurant.
I really do urge you to read that three-part series by Furlanis (or read excerpts here on Slice). You know how crazy Matt Stone and Trey Parker make Kim look in Team America? The Furlanis story makes him seem even crazier. [Hat tip to Monte M.]