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Dairy Products in N. Korea

#Korea, Today and Tomorrow l 2023-06-07

Korea, Today and Tomorrow

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Dairy products, derived from the milk of domestic animals, include milk, powdered milk, butter, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. Supermarkets have a separate milk section, where consumers can find a variety of flavored milk products. In line with the changing trends, new dairy goods are being released one after another. North Korea is also keen on dairy production. 

Today, we’ll talk about dairy goods in North Korea with Cho Chung-hee, director of a non-governmental organization named Good Farmers. 

This is part of a video produced by a North Korean propaganda outlet called Meari. In the video, a boy is asking his grandmother to give him milk. These days, dairy products often appear on North Korean TV. 

Dairy products are highly nutritious and excellent for digestive absorption. Therefore, they are ideal for children who grow faster than at any other stage in life. 

In the past, milk was a rare food item that was consumed by only a privileged few in North Korea. But last year, the country’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported that all counties, cities and provinces in the nation showed results in the production of dairy goods, which are provided to children. 

North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party has put so much emphasis on dairy production recently, stressing the importance of children’s health. The North has had difficulty in raising grain-fed domestic animals such as pigs and chickens, due to insufficient feed grains. So the country has focused more on grass-eating animals, like goats, cows and rabbits. In fact, the country has continued with its policy of growing grass-fed livestock since the late 1950s. Based on its policy of providing good-quality milk, the country has shown greater interest in dairy cattle. Also, the country has begun to stress the need to process goats’ milk into dairy products, in a shift from the previous practice of simply consuming goats’ milk. 

In North Korea, factories and enterprises are now seen raising domestic animals. 

The stock farm at our automobile company has secured enough domestic animals so we can increase the production of meat. We’ve built a new facility to produce protein-based feed. We’re ready for mass-production. 

North Korean plants and enterprises grow livestock for the purpose of improving the overall nutrition of local residents. They stress the need to process milk, a rich source of calories. The trend was triggered by North Korea’s policy change in childcare. 

During the plenary session of the Workers’ Party in 2021, leader Kim Jong-un instructed officials to improve and strengthen the nation’s childcare policy. Last year, the Supreme People’s Assembly adopted Childcare Law by unanimous consent. It isn’t easy to find a law dedicated solely to childcare anywhere in the world. In the subsequent childcare policy, North Korea focuses on dairy products. The leader asked the officials to provide nutritious food, including dairy goods, to children nationwide at state expense. Childcare Law also stipulates that all children shall be provided with dairy goods for free. Accordingly, North Korea has built the system to produce and supply dairy products. 

North Korea’s major dairy production facility is located in Kubin Village, Kangdong(강동) County of Pyongyang. The facility was actually sent from South Korea. There, the North produces various kinds of yogurt and butter. Lately, dairy production units or stockbreeding collective farms have built their own milk processing facilities. So, milk is collected from the farms and also processed as well. 

The farm in Kangdong County produces dairy goods in large quantities at the facilities provided by South Korea’s NGO called Good Neighbors. On top of this farm, other stock farms in various parts of North Korea make efforts to increase the production of dairy goods. 

The Pyongyang Children’s Foodstuff Factory that specializes in the production of children’s food is also committed to the provision of dairy products. The northern province of Jagang runs hundreds of production facilities for fermented milk drinks, while the port city of Nampo is carrying out a project of building facilities for dairy products. So, what kinds of dairy goods are produced in North Korea? 

Lactoferrin is a nutrient content in breast milk that helps boost the immune system in infants and therefore prevents diseases. 

In North Korea, milk powder is packed into metal cans, paper boxes or bags, with its nutritional contents indicated. The country has released milk products containing different fruits such as tangerine, grape, strawberry, peach and Korean melon. 

The North began to produce yogurt after bringing in production facilities through a pro-North Korean residents’ league in Japan in 1988. It has since diversified products, supplementing yogurt with different ingredients such as apple, jujube, red bean, collagen and vitamin. Last year, a new yogurt producing procedure was developed in Gangwon Province. 

Although North Korean dairy products have diversified, they have yet to reach the level of circulating the market. 

Dairy production is the most lacking part of North Korea’s livestock industry. Citizens, especially children and older people, need a large amount of dairy products, which are considered high-quality sources of protein. 

In the North, it is still difficult to drink raw milk. Even if a farm produces milk, it only provides the milk to nearby childcare centers and kindergartens. North Korea simply shows the scene to publicize its policy of providing children with milk. I think it will take some time before locally-produced milk is put into circulation in the market. 

If a country wants to produce dairy products, it should develop the livestock industry and secure a sufficient amount of feed grain as well. For dairy cows, in particular, it is difficult to produce enough milk by eating grass only. They should also be provided with nutrient-rich feed, including corn, barley, sesame dregs and rice bran, in a balanced way to produce good-quality milk. 

Unfortunately, North Korea finds it hard to import feed grain, and meadows and farmland are inadequate. Due to the limitations, it is not easy for the country to raise dairy cattle. That’s why the country has turned its eye to goats. 

There are not many dairy cows in the North, so the country raises goats as a supplement. Goats are useful as they provide both milk and meat. But the production is small, compared to that of dairy cows. Moreover, goats tend to eat up the roots of grass, destroying grasslands. Goats are not the main player in milk production in North Korea. It simply uses goats because there are not enough dairy cows. That is, acorns were good till bread was found. 

A goat produces less milk than a dairy cow that produces 20 to 25 liters per day. But goats grow well only by eating grass and they are resistant to disease. For that reason, North Korea has promoted goat farming. It has increased the production of goat dairy products since the enactment of Childcare Law that guarantees free provision of nutritious food to children and better childcare conditions. 

Each farm has secured an average of 100 goats and provides goat meat to childcare centers and kindergartens in its neighborhood. 

The goat dairy goods are introduced as children’s favorite products. In fact, North Korea has provided soybean milk to children far earlier and more actively than goat dairy products. 

North Korea has a long history of providing soybean milk. Back in the early 1980s, Pyongyang carried out a test project of providing soybean milk to childcare centers, kindergartens and elementary schools. Later, the project spread across the country, with each city and county completing facilities needed to provide soybean milk. The policy has taken firm root. Today, even middle school students are given a cup of soy milk every day. North Korea supplies enough amount of soy milk to children and students by importing soy beans, if necessary. 

North Korea puts a great deal of effort into providing soybean milk, calling it the best health food for children. The country continued to provide soy milk even during the Arduous March period in the 1990s when the nation suffered from severe economic difficulties. “Time for soy milk” is included in the daily schedule of local childcare centers, kindergartens and schools, which have separate soy milk suppliers and rooms. 

Even the car of former leader Kim Jong-il would yield precedence to vehicles carrying soy milk, so those vehicles were called “king’s car.” 

Today, North Korea adds fruit flavor to soy milk to suit the taste of children. The country stresses dairy products for children, ranging from new milk products and goats’ milk to soybean milk. 

Children’s health may determine the future of a country. Healthy children will guarantee a healthy nation. In North Korea, many children who were born during and after the Arduous March period are weak. Some kids even died due to undernourishment. Many North Koreans could not grow fast when they were little and they are prone to disease. Milk is the best solution to this problem. 

Child malnutrition in North Korea is still a serious problem. According to the 2021 edition of child malnutrition estimates released jointly by the U.N. Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization and the World Bank, about 310-thousand North Korean children under the age of five are suffering poor growth as a result of malnutrition. One of North Korea’s national tasks is to improve the nutritional status of children, who will lead the future of the country. 

Thanks to the dear leader’s great love for future generations, our children are growing up healthy and spirited as the pillars of a strong North Korea.

North Korea emphasizes the childcare policy, calling it a matter of the utmost importance and the long-cherished wish of the party and the state. The country focuses on dairy products as part of its efforts to improve child nutrition levels, and this move is considered a positive change. 

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