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North Korea tells people to eat black swans amid crippling food crisis

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North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un has told hungry citizens to resort to eating black swans amid the country’s ongoing food crisis, the New York Post reported on Friday.

The country has been pushing ornamental birds as a protein-rich substitute while opening breeding plants, according to the report.

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“Black swan meat is delicious and has medicinal value,” said the Hermit Kingdom’s ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, to push bird meat, which is rarely eaten across the world.

Research into breeding these ornamental birds began in early 2019. Researchers sponsored by the state went so far as to say that the meat had “anticancer” properties, Korean news outlet NK News said.

The news media also previously called black swan meat “an exceptional health food for the 21st century with a unique taste and extremely high nutritional value.”

A black swan swims in a lake inside the Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain, Augst 9, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
A black swan swims in a lake inside the Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain, Augst 9, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Seen as a bad omen in China, eating swans is frowned upon or considered taboo in many parts of the world, according to the New York Post.

The breeding of ornamental black swans is Kim Jong Un’s latest attempt in trying to solve the country’s crippling food crisis, which he admitted publicly in June this year.

The same month, he said the food situation was “getting tense.”

He has now ordered that every grain of rice be secured and that all farming efforts be ramped up, the New York Post reported, citing a South Korean spy agency.

Earlier this month, UN human rights expert Tomas Ojea Quintana published a report which stated that North Korea’s most vulnerable were “at risk of starvation” with the economy worsening due to a self-imposed COVID-19 shutdown and that sanctions imposed over the country’s nuclear programs should be eased to alleviate the crisis.

The impoverished nation has been behind a rigid blockade since early last year to protect itself from the pandemic, with the economy suffering and trade with key partner China dwindling to a trickle.

Ordinary North Koreans are “struggling on a daily basis... to live a life of dignity,” and the worsening humanitarian situation could “turn into a crisis,” Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN special rapporteur on human rights, said in his latest report published in mid-October.

“The most vulnerable children and elderly are at risk of starvation,” he added, according to AFP.

Sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council should be reviewed and eased when necessary to both facilitate humanitarian and lifesaving assistance.”

Read more:

North Korea sanctions should be eased during COVID-19: UN

US renews calls for talks with North Korea

UN human rights report warns of North Korea ‘starvation risk’