North Korea

A Pooka Is a Sometimes Food

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As you've probably heard by now, North Korea hopes to solve its little mass starvation problem by breeding enormous rabbits. Tom Palmer explains why it won't work:

they're not very economical as a food source. Huge rabbits require huge amounts of food to make them so big. The socialist planner wants a big rabbit. The entrepreneur asks whether there is a positive difference between the cost of feeding the rabbit and the value of the rabbit. For the giant ones, it seems that the difference is negative. But that wouldn't stop a good socialist. After all, if you have a giant hunger problem, the answer must be giant foods.

On a happier note, North Korea claims it's willing to kill its nuclear weapons program. In exchange it wants fuel aid—and perhaps, in a secret side agreement, some enormous pellets for the bunnies.

Universal Pictures

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  1. This is getting to be a rabbit with us.

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_starvation

    Guess someone forgot to tell them about rabbit starvation.

  3. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069005/

    Bones isn’t around anymore to save us.

  4. In North Korea, you have to be reeeeal careful who you say “Eat me” to.

  5. Didn’t Stalin try a similar undertaking with some sort of crab or lobster or something?

  6. One of the all time great movie quotes.

    “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

  7. I volunteer to help stop the advance of these Stalinist arthropods.

    You may pay me in butter.

  8. Egads. These things are HUGE!

    I say we let the giant rabbits and giant crabs duke it out.

  9. Finally, the world draws one step closer to making Night of the Lepus a reality.

  10. I believe that the purpose of the rabbits wasn’t purely for the calories, but for the proteins. From a Der Spiegel article:

    The north Korean population “…suffers widespread food shortages and where many people “struggle to feed themselves on a diet critically deficient in protein, fats and micronutrients.”

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,458863,00.html

    If this is the case, then the rabbits would serve more as converters from agricultural nutrients and proteins to meat nutrients and proteins. Foreign coutnries can send N. Korea cheaper food stuffs, the rabbits consume some of that food and are killed for their meat. On a calorie basis there is obviously a loss, but that is made up for in the gain of important parts of the diet.

    I think it makes sense, especially when you consider the nutrient converter in this instance will be able to multiple like rabbits (which I hear are very good at math).

  11. I only support plagues of freakishly huge crustaceans and Leporidae when those plagues are market-based.

  12. Apparently we were underestimating the literalism of North Korea’s appeals for us to employ a “more carrot, less stick” style of foreign policy.

  13. “This animal has no natural predators”

    Try me.

    Just try me.

    Urp!

  14. Mediageek,
    I was raised on the stuff and they still impress the hell out of me. Ain’t nuthin’ like a huge plate that is too small for the legs to sit on.

    I much prefer this image BTW. It isn’t a record by anymeans, but still a good sized gullet stuffer. This is a nice one too, though without a body it is hard to estimate a true size.

  15. i went rabbit hunting for the first time in my life about a month or so ago. lots of fun. but i think you’d definitely need a gigantic version to feed a lot of people. i mean, after those legs, there wasn’t much to it.

    hasenfeffer is a fun word to say.

  16. At least the rabbits could eat some things like grass which humans can’t eat anyway. But I think the best thing to do regarding North Korea is to cut off all humanitarian aid, including food. Before anyone accuses me of outrageous callousness I’ll point out that by most indications, the food aid the country gets doesn’t go to the starving people anyway, but is instead given to the military and the country’s elite class. So food aid to the DPRK does not help the people it’s intended to help; it only serves to prop up the ones who are making the people miserable in the first place.

  17. Let ’em eat tofu !! My girlfriend says I’m either a rabbit or a tortoise. I don’t know exactly what she means. Thank goodness she didn’t complain about crabs.

  18. Regarding the article in question, is it that hard for the Korean’s to grow soy (very protein rich) or as MDK stated, is this an attempt to convert imported protien poor foodstuffs into protein rich ones? If it is the latter, chickens and cockroaches are far more efficient converters of foodstuffs than rabbits of any breed. Plus you can keep 100k birds in a single coup with little worries other than Avian Flu. You cannot do that with rabbits as they tend to be territorial. One final benefit is that chickens store a good bit of fat whereas rabbits do not.

    All in all, it sounds like the “secretive” regime want’s this info to get out to make it look like they have the perfect socialist solution for a perfect socialist problem.

  19. I made the mistake of ordering rabbit recently at a restaurant. It was a huge portion, most likely because I was the only fool who had ever ordered it. I could just imagine the chefs in the kitchen saying, “Okay boys, time to unload the rabbit!” It was pretty gamey, but I didn’t have the nerve to send it back. So, I ate half of it, got the rest boxed up and left it on the street for some homeless guy. Bon appetit!

  20. mediageek | February 13, 2007, 1:19pm | #
    Didn’t Stalin try a similar undertaking with some sort of crab or lobster or something?

    You sure you aren’t thinking of gargons?

  21. Erg. Let’s try that again.

    You sure you aren’t thinking of gargons?

    When you preview, actually make sure everything’s RIGHT, don’t look at it in its wrongness and submit anyway.

  22. “The Portrait of Donnie Darko’s Grandfather”

  23. I had rabbit at one of the medium-swanky restaurants in New Orleans (not K Paul’s but another famous one across the street). Anyway, I have to say it was quite tasty. It was served with a very creamy sauce, and was somewhere between dark-meat chicken and duck in flavor and texture. Quite good.

  24. I only support plagues of freakishly huge crustaceans and Leporidae when those plagues are market-based.
    ================================
    We have a winner.

  25. In Soviet Russia, Big Bunny eat you!

  26. In re the giant red crabs–we seem to be good at overfishing everything else, why not these guys? Just invite a bunch of Japanese fishers in, and let ’em have at it–or send them (the crabs, not the Japanese–they tried that already–to N. Korea.

  27. I have a house rabbit named sunny, she keeps growing. I could never eat a bunny! EVER! I love them, and make amazing pets (10X better than a cat or dog)

    Why cant they just eat some cow?

  28. “At least the rabbits could eat some things like grass which humans can’t eat anyway.”

    Jennifer, you haven’t been keeping up with the latest developments in N. Korean cuisine.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/2055658.stm

  29. “Some scientists say it will stay in the north because it likes the temperature but others think it can go as far south as Gibraltar.”

    So are the scientists that are saying the species will stay to the north being blackballed and made to stand in defense of their integrity?

  30. MG:

    Was the google search “Stalin lobster crab”?

  31. when I was a kid, my Mother-Earth-Newser parents invested in a herd of “flemish giants”

    big ass bunny rabbits

    lots of ’em

    one winter, disease ran through the hutches

    bunnies with florescent green snot issues, dropping dead wholesale

    so I cut the few survivors loose into the minnesota prarie where they played merry hell on the indigenous cottontail’s gene pool

    big wild bunnies thereafter

    we switched to geese

  32. You’d think the North Koreans would at least try the vat-grown meat idea first.

  33. Stalin Lobster Crab would be a great name for an album.

    Dude, don’t go home with her. She’s got the Stalin Lobster Crabs.

    Whoa.

    I know.

    She likes so…nice.

  34. I’m going to go way out on a limb here….I’m going to predict that if North Korea does in fact get the fuel and food aid it want, it will say it’s getting rid of its nuclear weapons. BUT…and try to follow me here….a few years from now they will be building and testing nukes again and threatening to build more if we don’t give them more aid.

    Yes, I admit it. I am a traveller from the future. You cannot possibly forsee these events, but I’ve come to warn you about it so you don’t make the same mistakes they made in my time.

  35. Rabbit droppings are actually one of the best natural fertilizers out there, much better than the manures traditionally used. They’re also extremely fast breeders and have useful fur.

    Using them as a major source of calories isn’t a good idea, and smaller ones are probably more efficient than the large ones, but breeding rabbits could be to Korea’s benefit.

  36. How high do you have to drop the rabbits from?

    For them to turn into fertilizer, I mean?

  37. Aren’t King Crab overfished in the Bering Sea? Maybe they aren’t overfished, maybe the population decided to hoof it the hell out of there.

  38. Here I thought the whole purpose of N Korea’s nuclear weapons program was to breed giant rabbits. Isn’t that the way it happens in Hollywood?

    OTOH I hope the folks in Korea took a field trip to Australia first. (Historical info)

    WILD EUROPEAN RABBITS are Australia’s most serious animal pest and New Zealand’s second most serious (after the brushtail possum). Damage by wild rabbits in Australia, including the annual cost of control and production losses, has been estimated at $600 million.

    The cost of wild rabbits is more than economic: they cause environmental damage which is often irreparable. The loss of vegetation from rabbit grazing threatens the survival of native birds, mammals, and insects that rely on plants for food and shelter. Rabbits have contributed to the extinction of many native plant and animal species.

    Wild rabbits compete with livestock for available pasture and kill young trees and shrubs. Their warrens contribute to soil erosion by removing vegetation and disturbing soil.

    In New Zealand wild rabbits have caused significant land degradation, particularly in the drier pastoral country of the South Island.

    http://www.csiro.au/communication/rabbits/qa2.htm

  39. I’ve come to warn you about it so you don’t make the same mistakes they made in my time.

    Given it’s a game that goes back at least to the Cold War. But, what would happen if the United States played it differently? If we refused to give them aid, or demanded a regime change in exchange for the aid? What would North Korea’s next move be?

  40. The giant rabbits will, no doubt, bring the people of the DPRK giant doses of good luck…if only they could carry those feet around with them…

  41. Even when I thought it was the Austrians, I knew it was the brushtail possums.

  42. Wait, somebody posted a picture in this thread without posting another one to show balance.

    Of course, if they did they’d be fired from Reason.

    Or something.

  43. Given it’s a game that goes back at least to the Cold War. But, what would happen if the United States played it differently? If we refused to give them aid, or demanded a regime change in exchange for the aid? What would North Korea’s next move be?

    China would take out ‘ol Kim, and make North Korea a puppet state, lest North Korea reunite with South Korea and cost China a nice big buffer zone between Chinese and U.S. forces.

  44. So food aid to the DPRK does not help the people it’s intended to help; it only serves to prop up the ones who are making the people miserable in the first place.

    If you’re looking at it from a humanitarian point of view, this is meaningless. Korea does produce food of their own; if outside aid is cut off, then the rich will just start to eat what’s produced at home instead of leaving it to go to the poor like they do now. Maybe cutting off aid is the right idea, but let’s not pretend that there’s any way at all to do it that won’t wind up hurting the poor Koreans long before the rich ones even begin to feel the pressure.

  45. “The socialist planner wants a big rabbit.”

    This reminds me of the story about the Soviet nail factory. When the production target was expressed as a weight, they made small numbers of very large nails; when the target was numerical, they made lots and lots of little baby nails. Nobody thought to go find out what sizes and types of nails were actually in demand. And they definitely had no clue as to what it cost to make the nails, regardless of size.

  46. “MG:

    Was the google search “Stalin lobster crab”?”

    TPG, actually, I just Googled Stalin, crabs.

  47. Doesn’t the Korean peninsula have rabbits already?

    It’s not an island like Australia and New Zeland, so I would presumre rabbits already live there.

    Why hasn’t the Dear Leader mandated the breeding of normal rabbits already?

    They’ve had over 10 years of dismal harvests. As someone has said, rabbits breed pretty fast. Surely someone could have bred a rabbit that meets North Korea’s needs.

  48. “The Portrait of Donnie Darko’s Grandfather”

    I take it you mean Frank’s grandfather — who coincidentally was also called Frank.

  49. Maybe cutting off aid is the right idea, but let’s not pretend that there’s any way at all to do it that won’t wind up hurting the poor Koreans long before the rich ones even begin to feel the pressure.

    The poor Koreans are already starving to death. Literally.

  50. “If we refused to give them aid, or demanded a regime change in exchange for the aid? What would North Korea’s next move be?”

    KJI would ball his little fists up, stomp his feet, make all sorts of accusations about the Yankee Imperialists trying to kill and eat the N. Korean Children, and invoke Juche before enjoying a fantastically-staged song-and-dance number that includes several thousand N. Korean grade schoolers.

  51. TPG, actually, I just Googled Stalin, crabs.

    Hm. Any lurid links?

  52. Jennifer-That doesn’t mean that we should gamble that we can change things by causing them to starve even faster. We have no idea what the average North Korean thinks, so we have no idea how they’ll react to things suddenly getting worse.

  53. The real story about rabbit starvation is that rabbits themselves don’t survive starvation well. Apparently they can’t draw on their fat stores quickly enough.

  54. I predict that a Final Fantasy type miniboss will be the inevitable result – Vorpal Bunny come to mind.

  55. That doesn’t mean that we should gamble that we can change things by causing them to starve even faster

    Shem, with our current food-aid programs the only people whom we save from starvation are the military and the elites, the ones who are actually RESPONSIBLE for the starvation of their less-fortunate countrymen. Trying to save poor North Koreans by sending food to the people who oppress them is like trying to help poor Zimbabweans by giving money and ammo to Mugabe.

  56. But that’s not true, Jennifer. Much of the aid does go to the North Korean people. Not all of it, and much of what reaches them is marked up, with the government getting the profits, but there are still ordinary people who have access to food because of our aid.

  57. If you are arguing, like the supporters of the Cuba embargo, that hurting the people is a worthwhile cost to hurting the regime, that’s different. But I don’t think you are.

  58. Jennifer-But the Koreans aren’t getting all their food from foreign aid. They still farm, and what little they do get comes mostly from domestic production. If the elites don’t have anything to skim, they’ll start eating the food that was going to the lower classes. And when that happens, the elites still won’t suffer, and the poor will be the ones who starve to death, while the government spins it into an attack from the Imperialists and entrenches themselves further.

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