The North Korean government has focused its propaganda on a new subject. Black Swans. Not the 2010 film, but the bird itself. A food shortage in the country has started a new starvation crisis; now, it’s a scramble for the next substitute dietary recommendation.
Party-run propaganda publication Rodong Sinmun continues to roll out articles praising the unusual meat for its ‘medicinal value’ and inherent superiority to other products. As the vast majority of media publications in North Korea are state-run, the factual merit of the claims are suspect at the least.
The North Korean state announced a food crisis as far back as June. The coronavirus’s impact on food imports and inefficiencies in state-wide farming programs caused a widespread failure in food distribution.
In many speeches, Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un emphasized the need for alternative dietary solutions. On September 29, he insisted that the state could fix the shortage with the implementation of policies addressing the country’s agriculture infrastructure. Despite not explicitly mentioning the Black Swan as a replacement meat, Jong-Un emphasized the need for further expansion of alternative meat sources.
Throughout the crisis, propaganda outlets have pushed research and arguments claiming that swan meat is medically beneficial. For example, it helps prevent cancer or has special nutrients that aren’t obtained elsewhere. To them, the meat isn’t just a replacement during the shortage, but a superior alternative to traditional sources.
Mute swans are an invasive and overly problematic species in the states, calling for mass slaughters of the birds to preserve other animal populations and agricultural industries. The question of whether we should start eating swan meat is of high priority in many environmental advocates’ minds.
Whether you’re in North Korea or the United States, the conclusion seems to be the same. The popular consensus on what counts as ethical and viable “food” seems to change depending on statewide factors, rather than any implicit morality or nutritional value. The tastes of the market are manufactured by the media, no matter where you live.