Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cannibalism in North Korea: to eat or not to eat

China, Society, Opinion & Analysis, World, North Korea, cannibals

Feb 1, 2013 23:08 Moscow Time
Print Email Add to blog
каннибал людоед

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.
In one 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."
To 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."
Allegedly, there 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.
An 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.
Allegedly, 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment