North Korean Media Reportedly Tout Late Kim Jong-il as Inventor of Burrito
This is not the first time that the late leader of North Korea has been credited with creating iconic dishes. Previously, local media claimed that Kim Jong-il invented the hamburger, which he named "double bread with meat".
Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il invented the popular burrito, local media have reported. According to the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, the head of state came up with the concept in 2011 and advised that the "wheat wraps" are best to be eaten while drinking mineral water or tea.
His son, incumbent leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un
, takes a “meticulous interest” in the dish, whose popularity is now booming in North Korea, Rodong Sinmun writes. Videos released by local media show North Koreans gathering at outside the Kumsong Food Factory in the capital Pyongyang and then munching on the snack.
At one point, footage shows a mural depicting the late Kim Jong-il in a kitchen where the dish is made.
North Koreans who have fled the country have questioned the veracity of the video. Lee Hyun-seung told the Daily Mail that North Koreans don't even dream of eating burritos.
"This is because they are not even given an opportunity to encounter it. The majority of citizens do not have money to buy the foreign food. Even if they have money, there is no place to eat it. Perhaps there were no restaurants where you can eat burritos and wraps until now", Lee Hyun-seung said.
Rowan Beard, a guide who has visited the reclusive state multiple times, said he had not seen the dish while in North Korea.
"I've never had a burrito or a wrap there before. It looks pretty good! I will certainly give that a chance once North Korea reopens for tourists", Beard said.
Burrito, meaning "little donkey" in Spanish, is said to have originated in Mexico in 1900s. Its precise origin is unknown. According to local folklore, a man who sold tacos on the street decided to keep them warm by wrapping the food in large flour tortillas. He transported his produce on a donkey, hence the name.
The news about the popularity of burritos in North Korea comes amid reports of food shortages in the reclusive state. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, called the situation tense, as he announced last summer that the agricultural sector had "failed" to meet the grain production target, which Mr Kim blamed on typhoons that caused flooding.
He urged members of the governing party to deal with the issue of food shortages, telling the government to increase meat production and improve stockbreeding methods. The situation has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has weakened trade with Pyongyang’s key ally China due to the closure of borders.