North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, may not literally have said of the hungry people of his country, “Let them eat dogs,” but neither, historians say, did Marie-Antoinette say, when told that the poor people of France had no bread, “Let them eat cake.” However, Kim has cracked down on pet ownership in the capital city of Pyongyang, starting in July, according to unnamed sources who spoke with South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo. Kim reportedly condemned the practice of keeping dogs as pets as a Western “decadence” and “a ‘tainted’ trend by bourgeois ideology.” And instead of being kept as pets, Kim has ordered some of them to be destined for the dinner table.
“Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down,” reported the South Korean newspaper.
But the communist government has gone far beyond merely banning pet ownership. Some of the confiscated dogs were shipped off to the Korea Central Zoo in Pyongyang and other zoos — while others are being sent to restaurants to be eaten, Chosun Ilbo reported.
Westerners (and even other Asians) shocked at the prospect of turning beloved pets into food have now been exposed to the vast cultural differences between their societies and North Korea.
The New York Post reported that dog meat is a popular food in North Korea, and a recent food shortage has made it more sought after as an eating option. The Post cited reports that North Korean dog owners are “cursing Kim Jong Un behind his back,” but there is nothing they can do to prevent their pets from being confiscated.
An article in the South China Morning Post in 2018 observed the inconsistent and often hypocritical actions of Kim regarding dog ownership. Two years ago Kim gifted two Pungsan puppies to his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in.
However, lest we think that the North Koreans always regard our canine friends with nothing but kindness, the Morning Post reported that days after Kim’s gift to the South Koreans, reports surfaced claiming that the Pyongyang regime had been collecting dog fur from its citizens ahead of Party Foundation Day, one of the North’s biggest holidays, with North Koreans being expected to make such donations to the state.
The government “asked” citizens to relinquish their pet dogs and their pelts, or to offer a cash contribution of 20,000 North Korean won (US$148).
According to Korean media, dog-fur coats are as popular in North Korea as designer goose-down puffer jackets are in South Korea. In North Korea, other types of fur are scarce and the winters are notoriously cold.
It is apparent from these reports that in addition to being notorious abusers of human rights, the North Korean communists have little regard for animal rights either, not even for man’s best friend.
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