N. Korean lobster shortage, nuke progress add to international pressure cooker

Kim Jong Un is steamed about lack of crustaceans

WASHINGTON, D.C. - There have been two chilling reports out of Pyongyang, putting New Englanders on guard and on edge.

Yesterday, North Korea’s state-run news agency, the KCNA, prominently reported that Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is broiling mad over a shortage of lobster in his country.  The 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party is coming up in October and the Supreme Leader expected an ample supply of gourmet crustacean for the big celebration.

Kim’s comments came while on an inspection tour of the Taedonggang Terrapin Farm. Terrapin ranching, it seems, was a pet project of Kim Jong Il, the father of the present Supreme Leader.  According to the KCNA, Kim the Elder intended to “provide the people with tasty and nutritious terrapin widely known as a precious tonic from olden times."  Apparently, progress hasn’t even come at a turtle’s pace.

The KCNA also disclosed that the terrapin plantation was supposed to build a state-of-the art lobster hatchery.  It has failed, Kim said, due to “"incompetence, outmoded way of thinking and irresponsible work style." And now, bibs, shell crackers and butter dishes are gathering dust in the pantries of Pyongyang.

Yesterday’s revelations were followed today by a bold announcement from the government. "We have had the capability of miniaturizing nuclear warheads, as well as producing multiform weapons, for some time," the North Korean military said in a statement carried by the KCNA.  There was no explicit reference to the lobster crisis, but Pyongyang watchers say the connection is obvious and ominous.

Officially, the U.S. is skeptical. "Our assessment of North Korea's nuclear capabilities has not changed," a National Security Council spokesman said in a statement. "We do not think that they have that capacity."

That’s cold comfort to the lobstermen of New England, the world’s premier lobster water. And they’re steamed.

“I don’t care what B.S. those jokers down there in Washington are selling,” said Captain Claude N. Taill of Harpswell, Me.  “The next time that nut case over there in Korea gets a hankering for a two-pounder and we could be melted butter over here.”

Lobster futures rose by more than 25 percent on the Tokyo Sea Commodities exchange in heavy trading.

[Also by Dick Meyer: Cheating on Wall Street persists]

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