21 June 2000

Following the thaw in North/South Korean relations, Coca-Cola is on standby to send in its equivalent of the marines – the first of a number of US commercial commandos on red alert to invade the virgin North Korean market after Washington relaxed trade sanctions against Pyongyang on Monday.

"We are poised and ready to go. We already have a shipment on the North Korean border waiting to be processed," said a Coke-spoke. The soft drinks giant was not unprepared for the lifting of US sanctions against one of the world’s last surviving communist regimes; the wooing of Pyongyang began several years ago when it invited a North Korean delegation to its Atlanta HQ.

However, it was uncertain last night if the North will allow the first shipment of Coke to cross the border in one of the company's high profile liveried red trucks, often seen as a symbol of US imperialism. Instead it may insist on entry via an anonymous unmarked vehicle.

Although the impoverished nation is still in the grip of famine Coca-Cola has already secured a local distributor for its products, which will be sold mainly in hotels. It has yet to decide whether to establish a bottling plant in the country.

News source: Financial Times