North Korea's leader has reportedly ordered his people to hand over their pet dogs so they can be turned into meat for restaurants.
The move by the leader Kim Jong-un is thought to be aimed at appeasing rising discontent among the public amid a dire economic situation in the secretive country, including food shortages.
In North Korea, the wealthy, generally in the capital Pyongyang, own domesticated pets including dogs, which are seen by authorities a symbol of capitalist "decadence".
Meanwhile, ordinary people usually own pigs and other livestock.
In July, Kim banned ownership of pet dogs, denouncing having a dog at home as "a tainted trend of bourgeois ideology", a source told South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
"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 added.
"Some of the dogs are sent to state-run zoos or sold to dog meat restaurants".
Pet owners are "cursing Kim Jong-un behind his back", but there is little they can do, according to the source.
"Ordinary people raise pigs and livestock on their porches, but high-ranking officials and the wealthy own pet dogs, which stoked some resentment," the source said.
Dog meat has long been considered a delicacy on the Korean Peninsula, although the tradition of eating dogs is gradually fading out in South Korea.
Still, an estimated 1 million dogs are reared on farms to be consumed every year in the South.
A recent UN report stated that as many as 60 per cent of North Korea's 25.5 million people are facing "widespread food shortages" that have been worsened by international sanctions imposed on the regime for its nuclear missile programmes.
Along with the coronavirus pandemic, more than a month's worth of rain in the Korean Peninsula has added to economic fallout,
Heavy flooding is also impacting the harvest season and has proven detrimental to the supply of rice.