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Starvation in famine-stricken North
Korea is reaching unprecedented scale as tension between Pyongyang and
Washington is mounting. At the time when Kim Jong Un negotiates a new
deal with the Obama Administration, residents of the isolated country
turn to cannibalism as their last hope for survival. Shockingly, North
Koreans are not the only ones who consume human flesh. Chinese and
Indians also practice cannibalism, and, all too often, not as last
resort. Are humans becoming blood-thirsty carnivores?
It is often thought that in this
modern technological world 'cannibalism' is a rare occurrence, but the
recent reports from North Korea indicate otherwise. Last Sunday Asia
Press - a specialist news agency based in Japan - published a report
based on the claims of "citizen journalists" recruited inside North
Korea which claimed that as sanctions against the pariah state are
tightened even further, its residents are resorting to such extreme
means of survival as cannibalism. North Korea experienced extreme
drought in the summer of 2012, which resulted in a significant drop in
food production. Famine is the farming provinces of North and South
Hwanghae has already killed over 10,000 people. While North Korea has
not confirmed or denied any reports of the deaths, it is not unthinkable
that under such extreme conditions North Koreans might indeed be
turning to desperate measures for survival.
particularly disturbing report, a man from South Hwanghae was said to be
put to death by firing squad after it was learned he had eaten his two
children. "In my village in May, a man who killed his own two children
and tried to eat them was executed by a firing squad," reports Asia
Press with reference to one of its 'insiders'. "While his wife was away
on business he killed his eldest daughter and, because his son saw what
he had done, he killed his son as well. When the wife came home, he
offered her food, saying: We have meat. But his wife, suspicious,
notified the Ministry of Public Security, which led to the discovery of
part of their children's bodies under the eaves." Another insider
journalist claimed that "there was an incident when a man was arrested
for digging up the grave of his grandchild and eating the remains."
Western dismay, law enforcement officials are also engaged in
cannibalist practices. The report obtained by South Korea's Caleb
Mission, provided a rare look into the alleged cannibalism among the
police officers. The report said that in one account, "a police officer
who could no longer fight his hunger killed his colleague using an ax,
ate some of the human flesh and sold the remainder in the market by
disguising it as mutton."
What is even more
petrifying is that the North Koreans are not alone in their appalling
flesh-consuming practices. Earlier this month tea plantation workers in
India's Assam province were also accused of cannibalism after their
boss's mutilated body was found on the grounds of the M.K.B. Tea Estate.
It is being reported that the act of violence was sparked by orders
from the plantation owner for 10 estate workers to vacate their
quarters. Not long after the boss's announcement a mob of 1000 M.K.B.
workers of surrounded the plantation owner's bungalow and set it on
fire. In the morning the bodies of the plantation owner and his wife
were discovered by the police. After inspecting the bodies (or, rather,
what was left of them) the North Indian police were almost certain that
the workers must have eaten the bodies of their boss and his wife after
bludgeoning them to death. Moreover, one of the workers who was present
during the attack has recently confessed of the act of cannibalism.
Commenting on the issue, Numol Mahatao, deputy police chief of Tinsukia
district, claimed that "at least five plantation workers ate the flesh
of the tea planter and his wife. We suspect that about 15 people were
actually involved in the crime. We have identified all the masterminds
and nine are in our custody so far."
is a group of people in India called Agori sadhus who still practice
cannibalism eating rotten meat of the dead and meditating on human
corpse. For Agori consuming human flesh has spiritual significance since
they believe that the strength and wisdom of the dead man is
transferred to the one who consumes his flesh. Nonetheless, the workers
of M.K.B. Tea Estate hardly belonged to the Agori cast. Their compulsive
act of cannibalism did not stem from particular spiritual or other
ideological conviction but was rather a result of extreme despair and
fury. Indian plantation owners are notorious for underpaying their
workers and providing them with very poor accommodation in remote areas.
Moreover, workers seldom have protection from police and cannot take
advantage of laws designed to guarantee them health care and fair
working conditions. In this respect, it can be inferred that the act of
cannibalism in M.K.B. estate was sparked by hopelessness and resentment.
even more disturbing form of cannibalism is currently taking shape in
China. While the world has already become accustomed to the Chinese
cuisine with such traditional dishes as monkeys' brains, owls' eyes, and
deep fried scorpions, not all national favorites are as harmless when
compared to the latest 'pint de jour' which has gained popularity in the
Chinese province of Shenzhen - human foetus. The first reports of
foetal cannibalism emerged back in 1995 when a journalist from the
Eastern Express published a piece on contemporary dietary supplements in
China. According this piece, some doctors in Shenzhen hospitals were
eating dead foetuses after carrying out abortions. The doctors allegedly
defended their actions by saying the embryos were good for their skin
and general health. They claimed that "they can make your skin smoother,
your body stronger and are good for kidneys". After the trend was set,
it gained prominence among the general population of China and people
started consuming foetuses as a human tonic. As recently as half a year
ago South Korean customs officials seized thousands of pills filled with
powdered human baby flesh arriving from China.
this gruesome practice stems from a particular perception of unborn
children in Chinese culture. According to Dr. Warren Lee, former
president of the Hong Kong Nutrition Association, "eating foetuses is a
kind of traditional Chinese medicine and is deeply founded in Chinese
folklore." Traditionally, ancient Chinese assumed that firstborns or
aborted foetuses do not have personhood of their own and thus have no
soul. From this perspective, foetuses are merely a part of a mother’s
flesh and can be indigested. It was believed that if a mother
'reabsorbs' her still-born or aborted foetus she will then give birth to
a healthy and strong baby. Admittedly, this type of belief is not
uncommon in societies where cannibalistic infanticide was once
considered to be normal practice.