- Dictator Kim Jong-un announced in July that owning a pet is now against the law
- Authorities are identifying homes with dogs in Pyongyang and rounding them up
- Some of the dogs are sent to state-run zoos or sold to dog meat restaurants
Kim Jong-un has declared that pet dogs are a symbol of capitalist ‘decadence’and ordered that dogs in Pyongyang be rounded up – and owners are fearful thattheir beloved pets are being used to solve the nation’s food shortages.
Dictator Kim announced in July that owning a pet is now against the law,denouncing having a dog at home as ‘a tainted trend of bourgeois ideology’.
‘Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them togive them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down’, a sourcetold South Korea‘s Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
A recent UN report stated that as many as 60 percent of North Korea’s 25.5million people are facing ‘widespread food shortages’ that have been worsenedby international sanctions imposed on the regime for its nuclear missileprogrammes.
Dog meat has long been considered a delicacy on the Korean Peninsula, althoughthe tradition of eating dogs is gradually fading out in South Korea.
Still, an estimated 1 million dogs are reared on farms to be consumed everyyear in the South.
Man’s best friend is still a staple on the menu in the North, however, with anumber of dedicated dog restaurants in Pyongyang.
Dog meat is most popular in the hot and humid summer months as it is believedto provide energy and stamina.
Often served in a spicy soup or stew with vegetables, it is also known forraising the body temperature in the cold winter months.
The Chosun Ilbo reported that pet owners are ‘cursing Kim Jong-un behind hisback’ – but there is little they can do as to refuse to comply with theauthorities could be interpreted as an act of defiance of a leader who likesto be referred to as the Supreme Dignity.
The outlawing of pets will also have come as a surprise to many middle-classPyongyang residents, who began to keep dogs after the regime attempted tospruce up its image in the run up to the 1989 World Festival of Youth andStudents.
Embraced as a symbol of economic development and sophistication, wealthyfamilies would be seen walking their pets, which even made appearances onstate-run television soap operas.
As recently as October 2018, Kim himself presented a pair of ‘pungsan’indigenous hunting dogs to Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, as asymbol of the growing detente between the two nations.
The ‘peace puppies’ had a fortunate escape as their move to the Southcoincided with a demand that ordinary North Koreans pay a tax of dog fur, tobe turned into coats, to mark the foundation of the Workers’ Party.
The country is facing widespread food shortages, aggravated by the decision toclose the border with China due to coronavirus. Beijing is traditionallyPyongyang’s main supporter and the source of much of the food required to feedKim’s people.
North Korea was also hit hard by a number of natural disasters last year,which impacted the harvest, while it has been badly affected by flooding againthis month, with crops in the key agriculture regions wiped out.
Kim has nevertheless declared that he and his people will brave the situation,with the young leader telling a meeting of his politburo on Thursday thatwhile the nation has suffered serious losses in the flooding, it should notaccept any outside assistance because of the possibility of the coronavirusspreading.
Nearly 100,000 acres of arable land have been inundated, with nearly 17,000homes and more than 600 public buildings destroyed.
With pork and beef an almost unheard-of luxury for most ordinary people, theculling of the dogs of Pyongyang may be designed to stave off hunger in thecoming months.
This comes as severe flooding caused by monsoon rains have prompted the leaderto feed victims with his own private grain reserves.
Nearly 1,500 acres of rice fields were flooded as well as 179 housing blocksand 730 single-story homes destroyed.
Kim’s decision to used his reserves have gained attention from some diplomats,describing it as an ‘SOS signal to China’ for emergency aid.
Previous German pet owners forced to take dogs on 2 walks a day under new law
Next Animals Asia