Koryo Burger

Consumed almost exclusively at 40,000 feet, this infamous in-flight meal is a cult favourite of intrepid travellers, with its mysterious filling from a mysterious country, this is the Koryo Burger.

The Airline

Air Koryo, the national airline of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) operates a fleet of Ilyushin, Tupolev and Antonov aircraft and is the only option most people have to travel into the hermit kingdom. According to Skytrax customer reviews, the airline scores an honourable 6/10, comparable to many full-service airlines. They’ve have a wide range of meal options in the past, however in the last few years, the airline has streamlined their menu to their most popular product, and only their most popular product.

The Burger

During the meal service you will be given a tray with a single Koryo Burger, nestled upon a paper doily, a wrapped serviette and plastic cutlery; because everyone knows the best way to enjoy a burger is with a knife and fork. They also serve beer on board; burgers are best served with beer.

Air Koryo meal presentation
Air Koryo meal presentation

The first thing that you notice about the burger is that it’s cold, no toasty bun or freshly fried patty, the whole thing is served straight-from-the-fridge cold. Heating the bun would go a long way, it’s a bit stodgy slightly stale. This is accompanied by some brown sauce and one piece of lettuce, because you need your 5+ a day.

Most importantly is the chief ingredient, the meat. The infamous meat patty is made of… umm, beef? Actually no, it’s pork. Maybe it’s chicken? This will start fights on board as you try to convince other passengers what you think the meat is. Who knows, it could be vegan! But surely it can’t be, the congealed fat is unmistakably from some sort of animal. The vegetarian option has s couple of cherry tomatoes between the buns. Could it be something fancy like quail?

The Rave Reviews

At high altitudes, your tastebuds tend to dull. Probably why no one can’t figure out what it is. I’m sure it’s pork. Customer reviews on Skytrax rave about the  burger: “decent enough” (Kitson 2017), “cheapest meal ever sampled on a plane.” (Borland 2012), “simple” (Kupferman 2019), “quite tasty and I got a beer” (Sears 2016).

Close up
What do you think it is?

Fish would have a stronger smell, right? No matter the protein source, the Koryo burger is something tourists travelling to the DPRK genuinely look forward to, and some genuinely love the taste. I’m sticking to my guns and saying beef.

PS, it’s chicken. No, pork.

See more articles like this:


Further Reading

Air Koryo Customer Reviews

Header image: Waiting to board Tupolev Tu-204, Beijing, China


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