After leaving the DMZ our guides took us to Kaesong to have lunch. On our way their our guide explained how the culture of side dishes worked in the DPRK.
If you’ve ever eaten in a restaurant in South Korea you’ll know they fill your table with side dishes before you’ve even ordered. In North Korea the number of dishes shows how important of a guest you are. 11 dishes means you are the most important guests in the building.
As we were entering the restaurant I bumped into an old friend I met on the train into the DPRK. We shook hands and shared pleasantries. Unfortunately once inside they seated our tour in our own private room. I guess they wanted to cater to Chinese and Westerners in different ways.
We sat down and counted the number of side dishes. Eleven.
Then our guides asked us how many of us wanted to try dog soup. Our Vietnamese friend was first to say yes. Most people wanted to try it. I wasn’t so sure.
I grew up with a dog. He was my best friend and when he died I cried like I’d lost a close family member. You either understand this or you don’t. To me eating dog was akin to cannibalism.
But my curiosity got the better of me. I reminded myself that dogs were a farmed animal here and that it was a particular species they ate. It wasn’t like they were dragging people’s pets off the street.
We decided to order 3 and share them between us. I managed to try a single spoonful. It tasted like soft spicy beef. And guilt.