Taedong pigs
Pigs at North Korea's Taedong Pig Farm. / Image: DPRK Today's Pinterest Feed

Around 1,000 pigs at the Tokdong Pig Farm in Pyongyang died in early September due to African Swine Fever (ASF), Daily NK has learned. 

The Tokdong Pig Farm, which is in Pyongyang’s Sadong District, has a total of 10,000 pigs divided into 13 units. There are about 700 to 1,000 pigs in each unit, a Pyongyang-based source told Daily NK on Monday. 

 “One thousand pigs are worth a lot of money, so the farm suffered a serious loss,” the source said, relaying what a worker at the farm had told him. “The farm rushed to take measures to prevent the spread of ASF at the farm following the death of the pigs.”

The farm is not allowing any baby pigs into the farm and there is no certainty about when the farm unit affected will get back to normal, the source said.

He added that the mass death of pigs at the farm was not reported inside or outside the country and North Korean disease control authorities conducted analysis on the cause of death and preventative measures in secret. 

ASF NEWS BLACKOUT

Daily NK reported in late September that North Korean authorities continue to keep ordinary North Koreans in the dark about the extent of the ASF epidemic. 

“Thousands of pigs also died in two to three other pig farms near Pyongyang,” the Pyongyang-based source reported. “ASF swept through the area in mid-September.”

North Korean authorities have responded to continued outbreaks of ASF by simply banning the sale of pork. Officials have not publicly admitted that the country is facing a severe epidemic. As reported by Daily NK in late September, North Koreans also continue to buy and sell pork under-the-table, which suggests there is a high likelihood the virus will continue to spread.  

“Disease control authorities show up and tell us not to eat pork, which has led to rumors about the spread of a disease in the area. People who want to eat pork can just buy it under-the-table,” a South Pyongan Province-based source told Daily NK. “Pork sellers need to earn money so they continue selling the meat to people who want to buy it. It’s that simple.”

“I used to sell pork openly, but now I sell it in secret because the disease control authorities have banned its sale,” another source in South Hwanghae Province told Daily NK. “People wanting to buy pork will ask merchants discreetly whether they are selling. Pork sellers can’t sell the meat out in the open.” 

S. KOREA STILL COMBATING ASF

In South Korea, the first case of ASF was discovered in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Sept. 17. Since then there have been ASF outbreaks confirmed in 14 locations, leading to the culling of more than 150,000 pigs.

Although South Korean authorities are still conducting an investigation into how the ASF virus entered the country, experts believe it likely that the virus crossed over from North Korea, given that the outbreaks of ASF in South Korea are concentrated in the border region between the two Koreas. 

While a coordinated response to ASF has become more urgent than ever, North Korea remains unresponsive to South Korea’s proposals for a joint effort. 

South Korean disease control authorities have detected traces of the ASF virus in wild hogs discovered around the border between North and South Korea. The South Korean government is now expanding the area where hunting and capturing of wild hogs is permitted to prevent a further spread of the virus.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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