As a gesture of goodwill to the U.S., North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is interested in welcoming a McDonalds into the country.
McDonald’s has long been seen as a symbol of Western culture and capitalism, particularly in communist countries. Its expansion into China and Russia in the 1990s was a landmark accomplishment for the company.
McDonald’s now operates 37,241 highly profitable locations in 120 countries
From its early days, McDonald’s has been more than a fast-food restaurant. It has been a vector for American culture and a powerful symbol of globalization.
In the 1970s, when they expanded into Europe, they used the tagline “United Tastes of America” in its ad campaigns. It also promised to bring all-American business values, speed, standardization and ruthless efficiency, to the countries where it operated.
Founder Ray Kroc calls the company “my personal monument to capitalism.”
This explains why the company’s expansion into communist countries has been treated as a milestone in the past. When Moscow got its first franchise in 1990, Russians waited in line for hours to eat at what USA Today called “this city’s new symbol of capitalism.”
Not long after Russia, McDonald’s began popping up in Beijing and Shenzhen
McDonald’s has had mind-boggling global expansion. From 1967 and 1987, the chain expanded into an average of two countries per year. By the mid-90s, the pace had accelerated to 10 countries most of them communist, ex-communist and developing.
It is thought that greater cultural and economic ties between countries can reduce conflict. Some believe that capitalism promotes peace because countries who share foreign policy goals when they compete on the same open market.
Also, McDonald’s can expose people to a side of the United States with which they may be unfamiliar. That can help moderate negative views in places such as North Korea, where anti-American propaganda is widespread.
North Korea has approached McDonald’s about franchising in the recent past. Kim Jong Un is also believed to like burgers. In 2011, a South Korean newspaper reported that his father regularly had McDonald’s flown from China on Air Koryo jets.
Will the day we see American-style fast food restaurants in North Korea be soon?