The Dog Meat Industry: South Korea’s Dirty Little Secret amid the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics is shining a light on a common practice in South Korea that many people outside the country find reprehensible: Horrific conditions for dogs, followed by torturous killings, in order to meet the demands for dishes containing dog meat. The Humane Society International puts the figure at 2.5 million dogs bred and slaughtered every year as food for South Koreans, who believe that dog meat has special medicinal properties.  Reports from insiders reveal that family pets also end up on dinner plates.

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Dog meat on Menu in Korea


 

Winter Olympics shines spotlight on dog meat trade in South Korea

USA Today

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“It is just sad because when the world is watching the Olympics little is known or spoken about the Korean dog meat trade. There are hundreds of dog meat farms tucked away and nobody is talking about this. The buzz will be about the Olympics.”  -Meagan Duhamel , Winter Olympic 2018 contender

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The custom

-Eating dog meat is common and legal in Korea, as well as many parts of Asia…Dotted around the country are thousands of restaurants serving “gaegogi” dishes that, according to folklore, have strengthening and medicinal properties…

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The political dilemma

-The Korean government, realizing the issue is sensitive for foreigners, has offered money to restaurants if they stop serving dog meat during the Olympic Games and has requested that signs advertising the meals be covered up or removed…

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The numbers

-According to The Associated Press, restaurants “nearly in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium” are still selling dog meat meals. According to the Humane Society International, around 2.5 million Korean dogs are killed for their meat each year…

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The blow back

-Animal rights activists claim that dogs, as well as cats, in the meat trade are subjected to horrific conditions and insist nothing is being done to end the practice. That is despite Korean President Moon Jae-in being a dog lover who recently adopted a pet saved from a dog meat farm. Campaigners are determined to use the Olympics to raise awareness and hope that support from athletes and international pressure may spark a change in legislation.

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The inhumane realities

-In many parts of Asia, dogs are often tortured and beaten before they are killed as it is believed that the adrenaline makes the meat more tender. Korean farmers defend their right to keep dogs packed in cages and to treat them as any other animal being raised for human consumption.

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“In Korea they usually put a noose around the dog’s neck and take them out back, hang them and beat them. Another method is they just smash their head open. Sometimes they do electrocution. They shock them and burn them or de-fur them. With electrocution many times they are still alive. It is terrible.”   -Marc Ching, a San Francisco Bay Area activist and founder of the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation

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Ching also highlighted the enduring popularity of “gaesoju,” a potion manufactured by boiling a dog whole, in a pot mixed with herbs. Ching says that because the dog’s intestines are not removed, fecal matter remains inside them. He and Nami Kim, a prominent campaigner based outside Seoul, also say that dogs are kept in such poor conditions that many of them are dying and terribly sick.

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Family pets stolen for meat

-Some dogs that end up in restaurants are stolen from family homes; activist Marc Ching has rescued dogs from slaughterhouses and found microchips embedded in them…

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Bringing Korea’s dog meat practices into full public view

-Internationally, the issue of Korean dog meat has not been widely publicized. The Olympics, however, has a habit of bringing things to the fore.

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Rescue efforts offer hope

-Nami Kim has sent more than 1,200 rescued dogs to the United States through her Save Korean Dogs program…As with animal abuse anywhere else in the world, the mental scars of mistreatment run deep. When the dogs first arrive they are often unaccustomed to positive human interaction.

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“At first the dogs who come are almost feral. They don’t want to walk, don’t want to be touched…

[Fortunately, with loving care and patience, slowly the dogs come around] “…within weeks they are almost like a puppy.”

-Kevin Peck, foster care provider

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KW