Pomhyanggi is one of the North’s major cosmetic brands, alongside the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory’s Unhasu (The Milky Way) brand, and their marketing appears to be aimed at attracting both domestic and international customers.
The Korea Cosmetic Trading Company, located in the city of Sinuiju, specializes “in the production and marketing” of Pomhyanggi cosmetics, the North Korean online outlet Naenara reported in March this year.
The company, according to Naenara, “began to be known to the world with its Nowana and Kumgangsan cosmetics,” but people are now more “familiar” with Pomhyanggi.
July 2018 also saw Chinese state-run Global Times report that the North Korean cosmetics industry “may gain a lot from China once the country opens up,” citing experts.
Pomhyanggi products, the Global Times continued, are manufactured in a factory located on the Sino-DPRK border area — “frequently mentioned by visitors returning from North Korea” on the Chinese e-commerce platform application Xiao Hong Shu
In an interview with the outlet, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University Zheng Jiyong said the “beautiful” women of North Korea had played a role in promoting Chinese interest in North Korean cosmetics.
Pomhyanggi-brand cosmetics are also on sale at the Chinese online shopping website Taobao, owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba.
State media also frequently cites the product as a top domestic brand, with Meari reporting in March that Pomhyanggi cosmetics “have been on sale receiving favorable comments from people at various commercial networks in the city” including Pyongyang Department Stores No. 1 and No.2, Kwangbok Area Shopping Center, and Pothonggang Department Store.
Most popular is the men’s skincare and anti-aging cream, that reported added, as well as make-up, therapeutic cosmetics, and hair dyes.
The Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory is the country’s oldest cosmetics manufacturer: built in 1949 on the instruction of the late founding President Kim Il Sung, it was re-established in South Sinuiju (or Namsinuiju) following a visit by then-leader Kim Jong Il in 1999.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also visited the Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory in July 2018, accompanied by First Lady Ri Sol Ju.
That inspection saw Kim express “great satisfaction,” state media said, calling for the factory to “constantly improve research to improve the quality of products and increase product categories in accordance with the preferences, age, and constitution of consumers, while studying and analyzing world-famous cosmetics.”
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in June reported that the factory “has developed various functional cosmetics like eyelashes growth promoter, beauty mask for acne treatment, and mosquito repellent cream” in response to Kim’s orders during the visit.
Various cosmetics brands have been produced with “country-level attention,” it added, saying that the development was made due to the “wise guidance” of the North Korean leader.