I’ve been trying to track the progress or otherwise of anti-corruption efforts in China off and on by looking at ciggies, booze, motors and luxury goods in general. Elsewhere things are more basic:
Referred to as a ‘geukdonggi’ by North Koreans, this is a type of freezer that can hold goods in bulk. Although there is a freezer compartment in the fridge, North Korean officials also keep a geukdonggibecause they need a place in which to keep the various meats and foodstuffs that are offered to them as bribes.
For a meat bribe to count as a bribe, one must offer the minimum of a piglet in the meat’s weight or value. This is why a separate freezer for meats are needed.
Clearly, baby pig sized lumps of meat can’t be used as bribe currency in the same way that elegant calligraphy scrolls are used in China, especially if the chunks have to stay frozen. But I don’t think it’s just a matter of underdeveloped corruption. Characteristic diseases of North Korea include pellagra and kwashiorkor, both related to protein deficiency. Having meat obviously means that you can avoid this, but the size of the meat also indicates something status related may be going: the power to take protein off the market and exchange it amongst people of equivalent or superior rank. In this sense it works the same way as mistress accumulation does among powerful men in China in a context where selective abortion creates a gender imbalance. Both demonstrate your power to control scarce resources.