North Korean e-commerce: Leading cosmetic brand expands footprint with online store

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Major North Korean beauty brand, Pomhyanggi, has launched an e-commerce store on the country’s closed-off intranet to expand its online footprint.
Major North Korean beauty brand, Pomhyanggi, has launched an e-commerce store on the country’s closed-off intranet to expand its online footprint.
Major North Korean beauty brand, Pomhyanggi, has launched an e-commerce store on the country’s closed-off intranet to expand its online footprint.

According to North Korean news outlet, Meari, ​the launcs of the new website follows the brand’s recent spike in popularity among beauty consumers.

Pomhyanggi is one of the oldest cosmetic brands in North Korea and is frequently cited by local media as a leading brand alongside Unhasu.

History of Pomhyanggi

According to reports, the brand is also known for its men’s anti-ageing cream, therapeutic cosmetics line, colour cosmetics and its hair dyes.

The brand is developed by one of North Korea’s oldest cosmetic production facilities, the Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory.

The factory also develops another North Korean beauty brand, Spring Fragrance, which is known to be late North Korea Leader Kim Jong Il’s gift of choice for female soldiers and performing artistes.

The current leader, Kim Jong Un has previously visited the facilities in 2018 with First Lady Ri Sol Ju.

Korean Central News Agency​ (KCNA) reported that Kim encouraged the manufacturer to ramp up research efforts to improve the quality of the products while developing more functional cosmetics that meet the demands of different demographics.

Since then, Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory has been producing products such as lash growth serums, acne treatment masks and mosquito repellent creams were developed with “country-level attention”, ​said KCNA.

The outlet also reported that Kim has order officials to build a “trendy”​ store for the brand in Pyongyang.

This is not the brand first foray into the online space. Pomhyanggi is also available on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao.

According to Chinese state-run media outlet, Global Times, ​Chinese beauty consumers have been observed “frequently mentioning”​ Pomhyanggi on local social platforms such as Xiao Hong Shu, also known as Little Red Book.

"The brand is a top cosmetics product in North Korea. I did not bring too much cash. Otherwise, I would have bought a dozen boxes. The tour guide said the product does not contain a corrosion remover, and the ginseng in the toner could help prevent ageing,"​ said one user.

Demand for e-commerce rising

The launch of Pomhyanggi’s new online store follows a chain of e-commerce progress in the Hermit Kingdom.

Earlier this year, NK News reported that e-commerce platform Manmulsang has seen over 21 million visitors to its site since launching in 2017. It has also been experiencing a spike in mobile traffic, which has grown 14 million since 2017.

To cater to the demand for e-commerce in North Korea, Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 unveiled its online shop last year.

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