African swine fever, fatal to hogs but no threat to humans, has wiped out pig herds in many Asian countries. Feral hogs are thought to be a main reason for its spread, and North Korea has been snubbing the South’s repeated calls for joint quarantine efforts, officials say.
South Korea has culled about 154,500 pigs in the past month, all in farms near the North Korean border. North Korea hasn’t released any detailed reports on the disease, but South Korea’s spy agency says that pig herds in one North Korea province were “annihilated.” North Korea observers in Seoul say the pork prices in markets there have soared.
A look at African swine fever in North and South Korea.
START OF DISEASE
North Korea first reported an outbreak in May after widespread deaths of pigs in neighboring China. Chinese officials say farms there have slaughtered at least 1.17 million pigs while trying to control the disease since August 2018.
North Korea told the World Organization for Animal Health that 77 of 99 pigs at a farm in its Jagang province, which borders China, died of the disease. The remaining 22 pigs were culled. North Korea said it’s fighting hard to stop the disease’s spread, but has not reported any other outbreaks.
Suh Hoon, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, told lawmakers in a private briefing last month that African swine fever has spread across North Korea. Pig herds in North Pyongan province, north of the capital Pyongyang, have been “annihilated” and people were complaining about the lack of meat, lawmakers said he told them.
North Korea monitoring groups say the disease occurred in North Korea well before May.
South Korea confirmed its first outbreak in the border town of Paju on Sept. 17. It has since reported 13 more cases near the border and culled 154,500 pigs, including all hogs in Paju.