The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
5 Countries with the Most Similar Food to North Korea
North Korean food is particularly unique due to the country’s isolated political and economic status. The cuisine reflects the challenges of a nation with limited access to international markets, resulting in a reliance on locally sourced ingredients. Meat is scarce, so the government encourages its citizens to breed rabbits as an additional source of protein. Rice is the most widely consumed grain in the five countries with the most similar food.
- South Korea and North Korea were once one country, so they have many of the same traditional dishes. However, since these nations split, their diets have significantly diverged. South Korea underwent rapid economic development, leading to increased diversity and globalization of cuisine. Isolationist policies in North Korea have resulted in limited access to international markets.
- China‘s traditional cuisine, particularly in its Northeast region, is related to Korean cuisine. Cabbage and carrots are two vegetables commonly eaten in these countries. Furthermore, both countries eat a variety of noodle dishes. They also utilize pickled vegetables as side dishes or condiments.
- Japan is yet another country with a lot of coastline on the Pacific Ocean on this list. Given their location, seafood is especially common in their cuisines. However, since Japan is significantly wealthier than North Korea, its people tend to eat far more meat and their diet is more globalized.
- Cape Verde is the only country not in East Asia on this list. It is a group of islands off the Atlantic coast of Africa. Interestingly enough, the ingredients in Cape Verde’s diet and North Korea’s diet have some characteristics in common. Both countries eat a mixture of rice, wheat, and corn staple grains. Furthermore, seafood is popular in the two countries.
- Taiwan‘s diet is similar to the diet in China, Japan, and South Korea. However, Taiwan has a warmer and wetter climate. As a result, it eats more tropical fruits like pineapples and bananas. Taiwan’s economic development has led to a more diverse and dynamic food scene. Still, there is a prevalence of rice and noodles in both their cuisines.
5 Countries with the Least Similar Food to North Korea
Few countries have food ingredients that are especially different from North Korea. However, four of the five countries with the least similar food to North Korea are located in Africa. They generally have have a much warmer climate as well, so their crops are quite different.
- Central African Republic is a landlocked nation that was once a colony of France. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten ingredients in the country. Furthermore, taro and bananas make up a much greater share of the diet in Central African Republic than in North Korea.
- South Sudan is another landlocked country to the east of Central African Republic. Cassava is the staple food, however the country eats its share of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. Furthermore, beef is the most commonly eaten meat there.
- Sudan borders both Central African Republic and South Sudan. The contrasting ingredients in Sudanese and North Korean cuisines can be attributed to their distinct agricultural landscapes. In Sudan, a warm climate allows for the cultivation of crops like sorghum, millet, and various legumes.
- Papua New Guinea is the only Melanesian country on this list. Its cuisine often revolves around root vegetables like yams and taro. The culinary practices in Papua New Guinea vary widely across its numerous tribes, each with its own traditional cooking.
- Chad is to the north of Central African Republic. It is mostly desert land, since the Sahara Desert runs through it. Chad’s cuisine is far different from North Korea’s. It heavily relies on staple foods like millet and sorghum.
North Korea’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Saltwater Fish, Rabbit
Fruit: Apple, Pear
Vegetable: Cabbage, Bean
Starch: Rice, Corn
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.