South Korean media outlets reported Thursday that Coca-Cola company and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) had agreed to enter the North Korean market.
A group of 10 executives from the two brands visited Pyongyang from July 5-9 at the invitation of the North's state run investment group, according to Seoul-based YTN. The media also said their branches will likely open in September or October.
Refuting the claims, the beverage retailer officially denied the news reports. The company's spokesperson Kent Landers told the Korea Herald via email on Friday that no representative of the Coca-Cola Company has been in discussions or explored opening up business in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Chosun Daepoong Group, North Korea's state run channel for attracting foreign investment also strongly rejected the rumor that Coca-Cola and KFC would enter North Korea.
However, according to an unnamed expert in Radio Free Asia, if Coca-Cola had struck a deal with the North, it is unlikely that either side would make the news official, considering the current tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Meanwhile, KFC has yet to respond to any of the reports.
Other reports say that North Korean business delegations expressed interest in opening a KFC's branch in Pyongyang. The idea is reported to have come up during a North Korean business delegation's trip to the U.S. in April, says VOA.
We will have to wait and see if the two brands will successfully gain a foothold in the North and influence the country with the symbols of capitalism and American culture.
When it comes to the international media coverage, North Korea did embrace some remarkable changes. The North recently agreed with the Associated Press to open a bureau in Pyongyang. The country's state media agency KCNA has also announced plans to partner with Thomson Reuters, promising to give access to news video from the country via satellite.