Dog meat remains top option among North Koreans to beat summer heat

Restorative stew with rabbit commonly consumed in summer in North Korea. Image: Daily NK

As the Korean Peninsula experiences the last, intense vestiges of summer, protesters in Seoul have staged demonstrations opposing the consumption of dog meat in the country. In North Korea, however, dog meat is still considered the best “health food” to get through the summer season, local sources report.

“Temperatures rose to more than 35 degrees celsius in early August and the entire country is facing intense heat. Many households are cooking dog meat soup to protect their health,” the South Pyongan Province-based source told Daily NK.

North Koreans typically eat “health food” during the start of the three so-called “dog days of summer.” When the summer heat intensifies even more in early August, North Korean markets and restaurants will start selling large quantities of meat, including dog meat. It is also common to see people eat ginseng chicken soup.

Each year in the mid-summer, North Korean officials will hold a dog meat eating contest as a way to encourage the use of dog meat in meals.

“People will cook dog meat soup in their homes, or buy dog meat dishes in restaurants. Merchants sell a lot of goose, chicken, and pork at this time so people have no trouble getting the meat they need to beat the heat,” the source added.

“A lot of meat considered good for health is sold, along with glutinous sticky rice, oil, eggs and honey – all considered luxury health foods – in large quantities. Merchants know they’ll sell a lot of health foods during the summer so they make sure they have enough stock to make a killing.”

Increasing numbers of North Korean parents are concerned about their children’s physical development and households that can afford it will add sesame powder and vegetables to the soups, and feed them with watermelon and other types of melons. These meals may also be served with cold cucumber soup and foods made with vinegar to stave off the heat.

“Restaurants selling dog meat in Pyongsong and Nampo (in South Pyongan Province) sell a small bowl for 4,000 KPW, and larger bowls for 8,000 to 10,000 KPW,” a separate source in South Pyongan Province reported.

“Restaurants selling dog meat near the Sinsongchon train station sell one bowl for 8,000 won, but customers can get an extra helping of meat if they pay an additional 2,000 KPW.”