Kim Jung-Il's dictatorial taste in cinema, cuisine, and above all public sculpture remains deeply mysterious, witness the fusion of folk culture and socialist realism in the Lunar Rabbit Zodiac Memorial installed at Pyongyang's uninhabitable 105 story Pyramid Hotel. While a symphony orchestra can be sent to the DPRK in reasonable expectation of returning unscathed from a state banquet, rabbits are another matter
That's why Easter brings little joy to Karl Szmolinsky, bereft of his pride and joy, Robert der Grosse, the largest rabbit in recorded history. Last year, the 23 pound Prussian Giant Grey uberbunny, scarcely shorter than Kim Jung-Il, fell victim to his aberrant public diplomacy as Robert and 11 other Giant Greys were dispatched to Kim's establishment "with the aim of setting up a breeding program to alleviate famine" only to end up on the table at the diminutive Dear Leader's 2007 birthday banquet.
Der Spiegel reported the Meisterkaninchenzüchter of Brandenburg was due to be Kim Jung Il's guest in setting up a state of the art rabbit warren, but received a last minute call from a DPRK official canceling the trip. When pressed, North Korea's Berlin embassy issued a denial of any alleged lepicide, but declared the rabbits fate a secret of state.
The news leaked never the less- foreign guests invited to the banquet praised the extraordinary proportions of some of the dishes served -- Herr Smolinsky's better efforts yield upwards of seven kilograms of meat. Which is why, keen to alleviate hunger in the impoverished country, he gave the DPRK a thousand Euro discount on the breeding stock shipment. In 2006, Szmolinsky told Spiegel Online. "I've sent them 12 rabbits so far, they're in a petting zoo for now." but learning of their liquidation said "North Korea won't be getting any more rabbits from me, they needn't bother asking."
Absent the Hermit Kingdom Hasenpfepper fiend's orgy of lagomorphagy, the eight females and four bucks could have produced 60 bunnies a year. If fed properly: " I feed them everything-- grain, carrots, a lot of cabbages. At the moment they're getting kale," said Szmolinsky of the winter fare of his 50 surviving charges, adding philosophically: "You can't hang on to them...They cost a lot to feed." He has a point. An average-- there are no small familles of rabbits-- can devour pounds of fodder a month.
Is a demarche is in the offing? Some fear Hollywood animal rights militants may escalate the atrocity into a casus belli, by involving the dreaded Acme Products Corporation, whose retaliatory arsenal puts Kim's plutonium hobby to shame. There are other powers in the world, and Beijing, seeped in Manchu game cookery, and anxious to feed hungry Olympiansless fatty fare than roast duck, may have infiltrated Kim's kitchen, for Szmolinsky reports "China is sending a delegation to inspect my animals. "
Though Robert der Grosse has vanished, he left behind a kale-munching dynasty, including Robert II, who safe in his hutch in the March of Brandenburg, is growing rapidly as spring advances, already looking Eastward across the vast and edible swathe of steppe that extends unbroken from the Elbe to the Yalu.