June 18 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un has designated an alcoholic beverage that embodies the "innocent and tender hearts" of the North Korean people as the national liquor of North Korea, according to a state propaganda service on Tuesday.
DPRK Today said Pyongyang Soju has been designated the national liquor by the North Korean leader.
Soju is a clear and colorless distilled beverage that is consumed in North and South Korea. Its alcohol content is relatively high, ranging anywhere from 16.8 to 53 percent.
The distinction may be the first of its kind in North Korea. On Tuesday, DPRK Today said national symbols are designed to distinguish one country from another.
The North Korean designation comes at a time South Korean soju is being consumed at record rates. On Sunday, Britain-based International Wines and Spirits Record Magazine reported South Korean soju distiller Jinro was ranked as the No. 1 spirit in the world in 2018, in terms of volume consumed.
North Korea said Tuesday Pyongyang Soju reflects the regime's "natural geographical conditions, ethnic customs and long-established alcohol production."
DPRK Today also said Pyongyang Soju is made with corn and white rice, and that the beverage reflects the "clean, innocent and tender hearts" of the North Korean people.
"Pyongyang Soju has a clean, pure, sweet and refreshing taste," North Korea said.
Pyongyang Soju began to be manufactured at the Taedong River Foodstuffs Factory, after former leader Kim Jong Il ordered the construction of the plant in September 2009, DPRK Today stated.
The factory was instructed to manufacture Pyongyang Soju, containing 25 percent alcohol content, along with Pyongyang Ju, with alcohol content ranging between 30 and 40 percent.
North Korea has promoted economic progress in state media despite sanctions.
Rodong Sinmun reported Tuesday an "international expo" of health and medical firms opened on Monday.
More than 100 companies from China, Russia and North Korea are exhibiting their products, according to the Rodong.