June 17, 2021

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How the North Korean dinner table transformed under Kim Jong Un

Demand for meat in the country suggests an increasingly sophisticated food economy

For many generations, a slab of meat on most East Asian dinner tables was a sign of wealth for families, who would normally have no choice but to opt for vegetables and grains over a greasy pork loin. But that has changed in the last century or so as countries developed into greater economic powers, with North Korea consuming more animal protein starting around 2005.

Now, newly-discovered statistics suggest that North Koreans also began to eat more meat during the first years of Kim Jong Un’s rule — a reminder of how North Korean economic reforms yielded significant success back in the early 2010s.