How Kim Jung Un Is Solving North Korea’s Meat Shortage
By Chef Vincent Tropepe
Kim Jung 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 that their furry friends 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 in ideology.”
Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down.
The detained dogs are reportedly sent to state run zoos and then sold to dog meat restaurants. A recent UN report stated that as many as 60% of North Korea’s 25.5 million people are facing “widespread food shortages” that have been worsening by international sanctions imposed on the regime for its nuclear programs.
Although eating mans best friend is fading in some areas, the diminishment is too minor to report in an actual number. It is estimated that 1 million dogs are farmed in South Korea for the purpose of being consumed and in Pyongyang there are restaurants completely dedicated to serving only dog. To some Koreans eating dog meat in the summer and humid months gives them the energy and stamina to withstand the heat.
With Dictator Kim who likes to be referred to as the “Supreme Dignity” pet owners who refuse to comply with surrendering their dogs to authorities could be considered an act of defiance of the leader that can have pet owners face serious consequences.
The country is facing widespread food shortages aggravated by the decision to close the border to China due to COVID-19. Beijing is traditionally Pyongyang’s main supporter and source of the majority of the food required to feed Kim’s people.Besides COVID-19, North Korea has faced a series of natural disasters that caused the flooding of rice fields and destroyed key agriculture regions for the country.
It has been my longstanding position that people who come to American from other areas of the world not only bring their cultural traditions they also carry over with them the practices they know and have relied on to survive in their native country. These practices include portions of their cuisine. What they eat and how they prepare those ingredients. Now that the situation of the North Korea meat shortage has been layed out on the table I wanted to examine the realty of raiding and harvesting dog meat is something that happens in the United States.
China and North Korea earn much deserved condemnation for their dog meat markets and festivals. With pressure applied by animal activists the exposure of terrible conditions the animals face and the education of the public about the risks associated with eating dog meat, these markets are on the decline in the United States. This is espically true among young people who find it cruel to eat a companion animal as young people give much more of an emotional investment to family pets. While dog lovers in the United States call this practice barbaric in other countries some of us may be surprised to learn that depending on the interpretation of the law, it is still legal in more then 40 states in the United States to eat dog – and yes it is happening!
California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Virginia are the only states that explicitly outlawed dog meat. It is however, illegal in all states for slaughterhouses to handle dog, and it is illegal for stores to sell the meat. This does not prevent a person from killing and eating a dog in the privacy of his or her own home or selling dog meat from person to person. The laws among the states that have banned the consumption of dog meat vary and some states allow citizens to kill and eat dogs provided they are killed “humanely”.
In 1994, a man licensed to sell “random source” meat named Ervin Stebane was convicted of “improperly killing animals”. He reportedly stole pets from people’s yards and picked up stray dogs off the street. He reportedly shot them in the head executing them and sold the meat. At the time his barn was raided he had over 140 dogs in his possession. Since it wasn’t illegal in Wisconsin to sell dog meat he was only convicted of a minor crime and only had his random source license revoked.
A second example is in 2003, authorities seized 150 Korean Jindo dogs, a breed commonly used in Chinese and Korean meat markets, from a man in Pennsylvania who claimed that they were being raised, bred and trained as guard dogs, when in actuality he was killing and selling the dog meat. The man who had the dogs actually had a valid license to do so, but authorities took the dogs due to poor conditions, notbecause they were being raised to be eaten. The man was charged with animal cruelty due to the dogs living conditions.
As disturbing as these two examples were, they do mean something. As much as I’d hate to write it, it means that on some level there is a demand for dog meat. Both men had more then 100 dogs each! Perhaps their clients where people of Asian influence and it would not be a stretch to think that there is a high possibilities that some of their clients were Chinese and Korean restaurant owners. Truth is we don’t know and we never will.
In conclusion, Dictator Kim’s leadership style is in fact not leadership at all. It’s equally intrusive, disgraceful as it is mostly self inflicted that procuring citizen’s pet dogs to solve a meat shortage. And as far as dog meat harvesting and consumption in the United States cities and states that grant licenses for random meat sourcing should have extremely strict chain of custody requirements and insist on detailed record keeping to ensure that dog meat is sold to private individuals who independently elect to consume dog meat and to ensure that dog meat never enters the kitchen of any food service establishment.