North Koreans Asked To Hand Over Pet Dogs For Meat Amidst Food Shortage

North Koreans Asked To Hand Over Pet Dogs For Meat Amidst Food Shortage

The country's supreme leader made the announcement back in July that owning a pet was now against the law.

Image Source: Getty/HANOI, VIETNAM - MARCH 02: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attending a wreath laying ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum on March 2, 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo by Dien Bien)

There are several symbols and dogmas that are closely linked to capitalism, but we never thought dogs were one of them. According to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, pet dogs are a symbol of capitalist 'decadence' and would rather serve better as meat for their citizens. He ordered that dogs in the nation's capital, Pyongyang, are to be rounded up as owners fear for their beloved pets' lives. This news was announced by the Supreme Leader back in July amidst a food shortage in North Korea. The Sun reported that owning a pet is now against the law as Kim Jong-un denounced that having a dog at home is a 'tainted trend of bourgeois ideology'. 



"Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down", a source told South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. "Some of the dogs are sent to state-run zoos or sold to dog meat restaurants'" According to Daily Mail, a recent UN report stated that as many as 60% of North Korea's 25.5 million residents are facing "widespread food shortages". This is a crisis that has only been worsened by international sanctions imposed on the regime for its nuclear missile programs. 



While it is extremely taboo in the West and in Middle-Eastern cultures, several East-Asian countries consider dog meat a delicacy, especially the Korean Peninsula. In South Korea, as a result of democracy and free-market capitalism, the accompanying humanitarian trends have resulted in massive protests against this tradition. Despite the habit gradually fading out, an estimated 1 million dogs are reared on farms to be consumed every year in the South. Back in the North, dogs are considered a staple on the menu, hence the declaration by the country's Supreme Leader seems quite a normal thing for them to agree upon.



Dog meat is most popular in the hot and humid summer months as it is believed to provide energy and stamina. It is also known to raise the body temperature in the cold winter months making it a staple over there. The meat is often served in a spicy soup or stew with vegetables. According to the Chosun Ilbo, pet owners are 'cursing Kim Jong-un behind his back', but there is little they can do to stop his declaration. Refusal to comply with the government could be interpreted as an act of defiance of a leader who has the status of a cult figure and the supreme authority. 



This legislation will seek to outlaw pets in the nation as many middle-class Pyongyang residents are in a state of shock. The trend of keeping dogs as pets emerged in North Korea in an attempt to build their image in the run-up to the 1989 World Festival of Youth and Students. What was then embraced as a symbol of economic development and sophistication has now turned into an oppressive and privileged symbol of sorts. Previously, wealthy North Korean families would be seen walking their pets and even make appearances on their state-run television soap operas. 



Back in October 2018, Kin Jong-un was reported to have present a pair of 'pungsan' indigenous hunting dogs to South Korean President Moon Jae-in as a sign of growing diplomatic relations between the two nations. North Korea is currently going through a widespread food shortage, mostly aggravated by the decision to close the border with China. Beijing has been Pyongyang's main supporter throughout the decades and the source of much of the food required to feed its people. 


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