North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has barred citizens from owning pet dogs and has ordered dog owners to hand over the pets to be used for meat amid the country’s meat shortage, according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
A source told the outlet, “Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down. Some of the dogs are sent to state-run zoos or sold to dog meat restaurants.”
Kim first announced back in July that he was banning citizens from having pet dogs. He said that owning a dog is a symbol of capitalism, a “tainted trend of bourgeois ideology,” Chosun Ilbo reported. Dog meat has long been considered a delicacy in the Korean peninsula, and it remains a menu staple in North Korea’s restaurants. In South Korea, an estimated 1 million dogs are killed to be used as food each year, according to the Daily Mail.
The Guardian reported in 2015 that summer is high season for citizens to eat dog meat. “It’s not ice or water that North Korea’s authorities recommend to get through the sweltering conditions – it’s dog meat, among other ‘revitalizing’ foods,” the outlet reported.
Media outlets in North Korea say dog meat has a “variety of different vitamins including Vitamin A and B” and that it “aids in digestion and helps one recover from exhaustion,” according to The Guardian.
Only Wealthy Citizens Own Dogs as Pets in North Korea
The Guardian reported in 2015, “In Pyongyang, the most common pets are monkeys and dogs. Few outside the capital can afford to have animals because they take up a lot of effort and money, though some people keep dogs for their meat or to guard the house when they’re not home.”
A defector told the Daily NK, “In rural areas of North Korea families typically raise rabbits because they don’t cost much.”
Chosun Ilbo said that “ordinary people raise pigs and livestock on their porches, but high-ranking officials and the wealthy own pet dogs, which stoked some resentment.”
Chosun Ilbo also reported that North Koreans are unhappy with Kim’s clampdown on pet dogs. The source said that pet owners are “cursing Kim Jong Un behind his back” but have no recourse. If North Koreans refuse to give up their dogs, it could be construed as an act of defiance and met with serious punishment.
Dog Meat Soup Is Popular in North Korea
In August 2005, North Korean media KCNA wrote about the benefits of dog meat soup during the hottest days of the year, known as Sambok. The article was titled “Sambok Season: Dog Meat Soup” and described how dog meat is good for protecting the body and guarding against illness, according to Daily NK. In summer months, “If you mix millet rice in with the dog meat soup, the heat will be subdued and symptoms of weakness will disappear as well.”
Daily NK reported that another article noted, “Even spilling the broth of dog meat soup on your foot during Sambok is good for your health.”