On the grounds that dogs represent Western "decadence," North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un commanded regime elites to hand over their pet dogs to the government, the New York Post reported Monday.
Kim ordered the confiscation of pet dogs in July, claiming they are part of "a ‘tainted' trend by bourgeois ideology," according to a source who spoke to South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
"Ordinary people raise pigs and livestock on their porches, but high-ranking officials and the wealthy own pet dogs, which stoked some resentment" in the underclass, the source added.
Some worry that the dogs will be used to bolster Pyongyang's food supply. Dog meat consumption is a documented tradition in the Koreas.
The extent to which the dogs are butchered and sold for foodstuffs is unclear. The Chosun Ilbo source said that some of the dogs are sold to restaurants within North Korea.
North Korea has long been plagued by food shortages, which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus-weakened global economy. A United Nations spokeswoman noted earlier this year that roughly 40 percent of the country's population suffers from malnutrition, including children who face an outsized impact on their longterm health.
The economy and public health of North Korea are further complicated by the budgetary decisions made by Kim and the communist elite. Pyongyang regularly prioritizes missile development programs over feeding its people, while robust sanctions have hit the communist country's strained economy.
Although North Korea relies on China—its closest economic and political partner—Sino-North Korean trade has plunged by 90 percent during the coronavirus pandemic.
The severity of the pandemic in North Korea is unclear due to a lack of transparency from the state, but there have been confirmed cases within the country.