North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has reportedly ordered all pet dogs to be confiscated and then slaughtered to be used as meat in restaurants, saying they represent Western "decadence".
A source told the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, Kim made the order in July amid food shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down."
The source said Kim saw dogs, which are most commonly owned by the elite, as part of "a 'tainted' trend by bourgeois ideology".
"Ordinary people raise pigs and livestock on their porches, but high-ranking officials and the wealthy own pet dogs, which stoked some resentment," they said.
The confiscated dogs are believed to be sent to state-run zoos or sold to restaurants which use their meat.
A United Nations human rights expert expressed his concern in June at what he called "widespread food shortages and malnutrition" in North Korea.
Tomas Ojea Quintana said the issues have only been exacerbated by the border closure with China and the COVID-19 prevention restrictions, Reuters reported.
"There have been reports of an increase of homeless people in large cities – including kotjebi [street children], and medicine prices have reportedly skyrocketed. An increasing number of families eat only twice a day, or eat only corn, and some are starving," he said.