In North Korea, summer is not a good time to be a dog. With the country sizzling, North Korea's biggest brewery is pumping out twice as much beer as usual, Pyongyang residents are queuing up to get their "bingsu"—a syrupy treat made with shaved ice—and restaurants are serving up bowl after bowl of the season's biggest culinary attraction: spicy dog meat soup. Known as sweet meat, dog has long been believed to be a stamina food in North and South Korea and is traditionally eaten during the hottest time of the year, though demand appears to be especially high this year as a heatwave sends temperatures north of the 100-degree mark in several cities in the North. "People believe that heat cures heat, so they eat dog meat and spicy dog soup on the hottest days," a waitress tells the AP, which notes dogs used for their meat are raised on farms for that express purpose.
Good statistics for how much dog is eaten in the North are not available. But in South Korea, at least 2 million canines are slaughtered and eaten each year despite the fact that the popularity of dog meat is waning. While many older South Koreans believe dog meat aids virility, younger citizens generally are either against the practice or indifferent to it and there has been increasing pressure to ban it altogether. Like their neighbors to the South, North Korean attitudes toward dogs are changing. It is increasingly common to see people walking their dogs on leashes in cities in the North, for example. How Kim Jong Un feels about all this isn't known. But in January he made a point of donating 30 pet dogs of seven breeds—including a bulldog—to Pyongyang's newly renovated Central Zoo, where posters in the canine center explain how to properly care for and feed—not eat—canine companions. (Read more dog meat stories.)