Blue cocktails and pheasant meatball soup to fete Kim Jong Il's birthday

A bartender from the Haebangsan hotel performs a cocktail demonstration during a National Cooking Competition in Pyongyang on Feb 7, 2017.
A bartender from the Haebangsan hotel performs a cocktail demonstration during a National Cooking Competition in Pyongyang on Feb 7, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS) - Pheasant meatball soup and blue cocktails snazzily shaken were two of the more intriguing entries at a national cooking contest held in North Korea on Thursday (Feb 9) to mark the 75th birthday anniversary of late leader Kim Jong Il.

Video provided to Reuters by North Korea's official news agency KCNA, which Reuters cannot independently verify, showed North Korean cooks preparing and presenting various traditional Korean dishes at the Pyongyang Noodle House, the venue for the competition.

"The pheasant meat is good for people's health and the meat itself has a sweet taste, so there's no need to add many seasonings", said Pak Hye Ok, chef of the Bongnam Noodle House, who presented the pheasant meatball broth. "Nothing can defeat a fresh pheasant meat if it is well seasoned with salt."

In a crowded hall where the entries were displayed and judged, people snapped pictures and took video on their mobile phones as female bartenders threw shakers in the air as they made blue drinks decorated with cherries, pineapple slices and cocktail umbrellas.

The competition, which drew over 300 participants from North Korea's cooking industry, is the seventh of its kind and was held from Tuesday to Thursday, KCNA said.

Kim Jong Il's birthday on Feb 16 is considered a national holiday in North Korea, and is called the "Day of the Shining Star".

Kim, who was known in his country as "The Great Leader", ruled North Korea from 1994-2011 with an iron fist and was responsible for countless human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said.