English-language tabloid newspapers are abuzz about the latest alleged bombshell from North Korea – that the country’s late ruler and father of the current ruler is being touted as the inventor of the beloved North American dish, the burrito.
According to The Sun, North Korean official news outlet Rodong Sinmun has made the implausible claim that the U.S.-Mexican staple food was invented by Kim Jong Il, who came up with the idea of what he called a “wheat wrap” in 2011, shortly before he suffered heart failure.
The newspaper added that current ruler Kim Jong Un has taken a “meticulous interest” in the food, which is generating “booming” interest among the population.
The dish can also be seen in official footage circulating online, with Pen News airing clips showing a vendor selling the food outside of Kumsong Food Factory in the country’s capital, Pyongyang. Children and soldiers can be seen eagerly devouring the wraps, which apparently contained vegetables including cabbage and carrots.
Meat on a rotating spit, similar to the kind used for tacos al pastor or shawarma wraps, can also be seen in some of the footage, reports Yahoo! News.
The footage also shows a billboard of former ruler Kim Jong Il smiling while standing in a kitchen alongside workers preparing the tubular delicacy.
North Korea has been submerged in food insecurity and famine-like conditions as a result of decades of sanctions imposed on the country by world powers keen on preventing the country from developing its nuclear energy and weapons programs. The precarious conditions faced by civilians was exacerbated by the pandemic and accompanying health measures.
In October, a U.S. rights investigator blasted the sanctions as inhumane and primarily impacting ordinary citizens in the country.
“People’s access to food is a serious concern and the most vulnerable children and elderly are at risk of starvation,” said Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as North Korea is officially called. He added that citizens are placed in the unjust position of having “to choose between fear of hunger” and fear of the pandemic thanks to global apathy over ongoing sanctions.
One can only hope that the burrito news is a sign that conditions may be slightly improving for average citizens in the DPRK.
According to popular lore, the burrito grew popular along the U.S.-Mexican border when street vendors used donkeys, or burros, to carry and sell large flour tortillas filled with meat, beans, and vegetables to workers in the area.
Since then, the food item has exploded in popularity in the United States and across the world as a convenient and delicious food, and is often seen as a symbol of Mexican gastronomy despite the dish’s relative obscurity in much of Mexico.
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