According to numerous recent reports, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the confiscation of pet dogs in response to a massive food shortage brought on by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Things were already very difficult for the country due to economic sanctions from the west, but the coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions significantly impacted their trade with China, who was one of their most significant trade partners.
It has been reported that the North Korean government intends to kill the animals that are confiscated so they can be used for their meat.
Kim Jong-un has reportedly said that owning pet dogs is a sign of “western decadence” and that only rich people have dogs. Temporary dog bans are actually a fairly common occurrence in North Korea. There have been various bans on dogs in the country since the 1980s, typically during difficult economic times like these.
In 2018, the South China Morning Post reported that the North Korean government asked citizens to give up their dogs’ fur for Party Foundation Day, which is one of the country’s largest and most important holidays. That time, citizens were allowed to keep their animals if they paid the government $148 worth of rice. However, in this case, dog owners will likely not have the ability to refuse confiscation because the circumstances are so desperate
According to the United Nations, things are currently so bad in North Korea that many families are starving and some can only afford one meal a day.
An estimated 10 million North Koreans or 40% of its population are facing malnutrition, UN spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said at a recent press conference in Geneva.
Dog meat is considered to be a delicacy in North Korea so the idea of using these animals for food is not incredibly unusual, especially during times of economic hardship.