- By Isaac Stone Fish
Isaac Stone Fish is associate editor at Foreign Policy. Previously a Beijing correspondent for Newsweek, he wrote stories on such subjects as the Dalai Lama’s effect on international trade, China’s love affair with rogue states, and crystal meth in North Korea. His articles have also appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the Economist, and the Los Angeles Times.
It’s a sad irony for a country wracked by malnutrition: A North Korean research institute is reported to have made a breakthrough in the science of weight-loss.
On Tuesday, Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea’s premier English language news website, posted an article about a scientific discovery: The Foodstuff Institute under the State Academy of Sciences had domestically localized a protein compound called oligopeptide, which helps in "controlling body weight" and "helps prevent fatness and cancer," according to the article. Nutrients and drinks made from the substance "won high appraisal at the exhibition of scientific achievements held by the State Academy of Sciences last year," the article continues.
On the one hand, scientific advancements, if this indeed is one, are beneficial to countries of all economic statuses. On the other hand, the World Food Program said in November that about "80 percent of North Korean households lacked the essential amount of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins in their diets," according to The New York Times. And while it’s unknown whether anyone outside of the occasional international reader of the occasionally dependable KCNA knows about this drink, the optics aren’t great.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |