Despite facing a massive food shortage—the likes of which hasn't been seen since 2011—and informing its citizens that an "arduous march" was likely on the horizon, big food stories are most certainly poppin' in the Hermit Kingdom that is North Korea.
First off, we recently told you about Kim Jong-un's plans to end the summer in style with the country's first-ever beer festival, a 20-day-long spectacular where the Taedonggang will flow aplenty and all those nasty thoughts the international community has about North Korea will be gloriously drowned in a torrent of beer and karaoke.
But now, the isolationist nation has graciously informed the world that dog meat is actually a superfood. Screw açai and goji berries—North Korea thinks tomorrow's nutritionists will be going crazy over the unrivaled benefits of dog meat.
That's right, North Korea's state-run news outlets are making a point of running multiple stories extolling the health benefits that supposedly come along with consuming dog meat.
The massive media push seems to largely be a result of poor rainfall that has led to an unexpectedly low rice harvest this year, the worst since the country's widespread food shortage back in 2011. The UN's Food & Agriculture Organization has said that North Korea needs to import upwards of 700,000 metric tons of grain to fill the void left by this year's harvest, but is expected to only purchase roughly 300,000 tons.
This year's deficit could certainly explain the recent dog-meat hype, considering the very real need to quickly fill the void and the nation's tried-and-true history of dog consumption.
The campaign started in June when DPRK Today, a state-run North Korean news organization that regularly streams state information through its YouTube channel, claimed that dog meat contained more vitamins than chicken, pork, beef or duck, and is good for the intestines and stomach.
More recently, on August 6, the Tongil Voice, an official North Korea radio broadcaster, declared that dog stew is the "finest medicine." According to the Korea Times of South Korea, the broadcaster said, "There is an old saying that even a slice of dangogi can be good medicine during the dog days." Dangogi, which translates as "sweet meat," is the local name for dog meat.
More disturbing, perhaps, is that state-run DPRK Today had actually gone so far as to say that dogs should be beaten to death to ensure their meat is at its tastiest when consumed. The media outlet allegedly also used a medical encyclopedia written during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) to justify its health claims.
On the other side of the DMZ, South Korea has largely given up the age-old practice of eating dog meat. All we can hope is that North Korea can find ways to deal with its food shortage, other than encouraging its citizens to make a meal out of man's best friend.