August 07, 2018

North Koreans eat dog meat to beat the heat

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With the hottest days of the year upon parts of the far east, dog meat sales are through the roof as citizens try to cool down from the blazing sun. 

Summer is a very unfortunate time to be a dog in both North and South Korea. Their national food, "dangogi," is a dog meat delicacy that locals call "sweet meat." It is believed that the meat provides those who eat it with stamina, something required to overcome the hot weather. 

The consumption of dog meat centers around "sambok," the hottest three days of the year, which are fixed according to the lunar calendar. 

During this time, citizens line up for cold beers, syrupy treats made with shaved ice, and dog meat, hoping to beat the heat by any means. 

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This year's dates for the sambok are July 17 and 27, and August 16. Because of the heatwave currently rolling through the region, the controversial meat is in particularly high demand this year. 

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Unfortunately there aren't reliable statistics for the consumption numbers in North Korea, but it is becoming less and less prevalent in South Korea, where even President Moon Jae-in has pet dogs. 

At least two million dogs are raised for slaughter specifically for this time of the year, and are kept on farms as cows and sheep are. 

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In South Korea, the interest in the practice of dog meat seems to be waning. It is mostly prevalent among the older generations, who believe it aids virility. Younger citizens are largely either against the practice or completely indifferent to it. 

There has also been increasing pressure from animal rights groups in the western world to ban the practice entirely. 

"It's been our national food since olden times," explained Kim Ae Kyong, a waitress at the Pyongyang House of Sweet Meat, the largest dog specialty restaurant in the North Korean capital. "People believe that heat cures heat, so they eat dog meat and spicy dog soup on the hottest days. It's healthier than other kinds of meat." 

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Pyongyang House of Sweet Meat is among a number of restaurants that offer more than a dozen different dishes made with dog meat. 

But even in North Korea seeing people walking their pet dogs is becoming more and more common. Just a few years ago, this would have been a rare sight. 

Leader Kim Jong-un has not made his thoughts on eating dog meat known, but has donated 30 dogs of 7 different breeds to the Central Zoo with a sign at their exhibit explaining how to properly feed and care for dogs. 

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