North Korean reveals cannibalism is common
Sung Min Jeong, 44, claims that in Chongjin – a city at the tip of the North Korean coast – a shopkeeper serves up human meat.
"One of his strongest thoughts is … if he didn't take steps to leave North Korea, he would've become a North Korean who ate human flesh," an interpreter for Mr Jeong told news.com.au.
The thought that he would have to one day eat a fellow human being is what drove Mr Jeong to leave his homeland behind and to escape to Sydney in March 2011.
He would've become a North Korean who ate human flesh
It is not the first time reports of cannibalism have emerged from the secretive state.
Fears that famine-stricken North Koreans are being forced to eat human flesh heightened earlier this year following claims a man was executed for murdering his two children for food.
"While his wife was away on business he killed his eldest daughter and, because his son saw what he had done, he killed his son as well. When the wife came home, he offered her food, saying: 'We have meat,'" a source told The Independent.
"But his wife, suspicious, notified the Ministry of Public Security, which led to the discovery of part of their children's bodies under the eaves."
Renewed reports of cannibalism came after a human rights group accused North Korea of operating a system of secret gulag-style prison camps, according to reports.
Fears of cannibalism in the country surfaced in 2003 too, amid testimony from refugees who claimed poor harvests and food aid sanctions had resulted in children being killed and corpses cut up for food.
According to reports, requests by the United Nations World Food Programme to access "farmers' markets" where human meat was said to be traded, were turned down by Pyongyang, citing "security reasons".
Those caught selling human meat face execution, but one source told the North Korean Refugees Assistance Fund: "Pieces of 'special' meat are displayed on straw mats for sale.
"People know where they come from, but they don't talk about it." Express