NEWS AND COMMENT-NORTH KOREA: If you read the news daily as I do, it is hard to miss the news coming out of North Korea which is that they are essentially starving because of two factors as I see it: Covid pandemic and sanctions which has dried up trade. Essentially, they are running out of money due to restricted exports and in doing so they can’t afford to feed themselves. But they’ve come up with an imaginative and, to Westerners, and objectionable idea to farm ‘delicious’ black swans on an industrial scale at a new unit on one of the country’s biggest poultry farms. This is their big idea to overcome chronic food shortages.
Black swans are universally regarded as beautiful and magnificent creatures. They are celebrated for their grace and elegance. They are protected from hunters but not protected from the menus of North Koreans at the moment.
North Koreans believe that black swans have ‘medicinal value’ to use their words. A report from North Korea concerning a “swan corral” at the Kwangpho Duck Farm, stated “A foundation was laid to make an active contribution to the improvement of the people’s living by raising in an industrial way black swan, a rare ornamental bird of medicinal value”.
There are several blocks of sheds at this ‘corral’ as they have described it. There is breeding equipment and a block for young birds. The black swan is native to Western Australia and they have formed stable populations in some Asian countries to where they were imported as ornamental birds.
Kim Jong-un has warned the nation of food shortages. He blamed it on bad weather. He said “The people’s food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfil its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year” in a speech to the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party.
Observers say that North Korea’s food shortage is highly predictable. They can’t produce enough food because of inefficient agricultural methods due to self-imposed isolation throughout the Covid pandemic combined with UN sanctions. This is made it more difficult to import the usual foods via China. I’ve just read that and it kind of squares up with what I said in the opening paragraph.
In the devastating famine of the 1990s, millions died of starvation. The North Korean people are used to eating strange things due to epidemic levels of hunger. They’ve eaten grasshoppers, dragonflies, rats, earthworms and straw together with grass bulked out with tree bark.
I can remember a picture from North Korea which sticks in my mind and I simply can’t remove it from my memory. It’s of a pretty woman standing in a grassy field looking completely forlorn and very thin. She was eating grass. The report at that time was that the people were dying of starvation. It is incredibly tragic that the people of North Korea support their dictator in his mismanagement of the country. I’m sure the army which looks expansive in size are well fed.
On that subject, Kim Jong-un was too well-fed for a long time and photographs indicate that he has recently lost 20 kg. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth by the citizens of the country because they thought he was ill. To me, it looks as if he was advised by his medical team to lose weight in the interest of his health. Perhaps he was developing type II diabetes. Perhaps he had heart problems. As I recall, his father had heart problems. He looks far healthier so he should be praised by his people. The trouble is that he will live longer and keep his nation in abject poverty for longer too.