Is it true that dogs have been banned as pets in North Korea?

April 2024: Most of us know that Kim Jong-un’s government does all it can to indoctrinate North Korean citizens into behaving like robots and worshipping the autocratic dictator. So, everything is homogenised. The citizens have to wear similar clothes and have similar haircuts and women can’t wear shorts but men can. It’s all designed to brainwash citizens and eradicate any individualism so they all end up worshipping this single person at the top, Kim Jong-un.

On 27th March 2024, the Daily Mail stated that dogs have been banned as pets in North Korea. There’s nothing, by the way about cats on the Daily Mail website. In fact, over 10 minutes of searching I couldn’t find any information about whether cats are allowed in North Korea except I do remember during the Covid-19 pandemic that Kim Jong-un made an executive order that all cats be killed because he stated that they spread the Covid-19 virus. We don’t know how that order was executed in practice.

North Korean citizens still have dogs despite the leaders executive order to not have pet dogs but to treat them as livestock
North Korean citizens still have dogs despite the leaders executive order to not have pet dogs but to treat them as livestock. Note: this man wears jeans which are outlawed in North Korea! This picture is fictional.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

However, I did find reference to domestic cats on the Daily North Korea website. I’ve just found it. It states that “There have always been families who had cats to catch mice, but there weren’t many families with dogs. But their number has gradually increased….” This would imply that people do keep cats as pets and that they still exist after Covid-19 despite the order to kill them all on the presumption that this order was actually made.

RELATED: Kim Jong-un declares war on cats fearing they bring Covid-19 to North Korea

Clearly an issue with North Korea is that it is very hard get to the truth because very little information comes out of the secretive, hermit country. Sometimes news media fabricate or gloss up stories.

And we don’t also know how the order that no family should have a pet dog is executed as well because my research indicates that some (a small number?) North Korean citizens do have pet dogs as family members. That is despite the fact that it is frowned upon and incompatible with the “socialist lifestyle and should be strictly avoided”. This information comes from the Daily North Korea website (Daily NK). They received the information from a source in South Pyongan Province on condition that they remained anonymous.

My understanding is that the number of dogs as pets increased from around 2000 perhaps as guard dogs. The order to get rid of dogs has upset a lot of North Korean citizens with some dog owners being driven to tears because they love their dog.

My interpretation of the story is that it is hoped that rather than the government taking forceful action in seizing dogs that dog ownership will die out. I take that to mean that North Koreans will not adopt another dog bearing in mind the executive order when their existing dog dies.

The story is that the North Korean government want people to regard dogs as livestock providing meat or pelts but not as pets which for them is a bourgeois Western concept which undermines North Korea’s version of strict socialism.

Desire to own pets

The bottom line to this no-dog story really is that a significant percentage of the citizens of any nation will want to adopt a pet; normally a cat or dog. It is an instinctive desire for humans. Cats and dogs bring a lot of pleasure to people. It would appear that there is not a lot to do in North Korea which brings pleasure at least from the Western perspective.

Therefore, there will be pressure on the government of North Korea to allow citizens to live with cats and dogs and treat them as members of the family.

The North Korean government must have difficulty here. They want to remain in power. To achieve this, they need to suppress individualism and enlightened thought among the masses. But, at the same time, they need to prevent them from rebelling against unreasonable diktats from the dictator, Kim Jong-un and his government. There has to be some acceptance of human desires to help keep the masses quiet and passive.


I welcome input from those who know better and who have first-hand knowledge.

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