North Korea’s New Weight Loss Drink Prevents Cancer, Fatness

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 ...

-/AFP/Getty Images
-/AFP/Getty Images
-/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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. 

h/t @adamcathcart

Isaac Stone Fish is a journalist and senior fellow at the Asia Society’s Center on U.S-China Relations. He was formerly the Asia editor at Foreign Policy Magazine. Twitter: @isaacstonefish

More from Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.

Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?

The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.

Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.
Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.

Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World

It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

It’s a New Great Game. Again.

Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.

Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.
Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing

The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.