> A recipe for survival in North Korea. This might look like typical Asian tofu dish but its name
] literally translates to man made meat. It doesn't really look like meat but at a time of wide spread starvation it was the closest many people got. Now it's sold as a popular street food in North Korea's flourishing grain markets, a staple in the semi legal trade that has kept the economy afloat despite years of sanctions and isolation.
It can also be bought in the south.>> I as James Pearson just outside Seoul where this one time delicacy is popular amongst North Korean defectors. It's made from soy but it was produced as a substitute to meat at a time when people couldn't afford to buy any or there simply wasn't enough to go around.
That was during the famine in the 1990s where some says up to 3 million people died as result of mass starvation. That's less of a problem now but remained as a symbol of the self sufficiency which rich people were able to survive. At the time people learned that the government wasn't gonna be there to be able to feed them.
Instead people turned to a system of private person to person bartering that still forms the basis of most people's livelihoods today.>> Back in the early 2000s was expensive by most people's standards. And the poor was still adapting to life without food rations. The fact Daji Songo says for his family it was a luxury.
>> Around fall even artificial meat would be hard to find. The taste reminds of the old times.>> We wouldn't have it often as it wasn't readily available. I can remember when my younger sister was sick and wanted to have it but we were not able to buy it cuz we didn't have the money.
>> Today Kim North Korea tolerates the gray markets as a food source, and experts say it's a big part of staving off another bad famine. But that also makes it hard to get data on how North Korea's economy is really doing and, by extension, how bad sanctions are hitting ordinary people.
According to UN estimates, up to 70% of the population rely on government handouts for food. But 60% of defectors say they relied on the markets, not the state to feed themselves.