Cruelty and tradition: what makes Koreans eat dogs
One of the unsportsmanlike leitmotifs of the Pyeongchang Olympics was the struggle of animal advocates and all animal sympathizers with the old Korean tradition of eating dog meat.
It began when Dutch speed skater Jan Blockhuysen, the bronze medalist in the team race, accused the Koreans at a press conference, either out of frustration that he had to settle for third place or real concern, of treating dogs poorly. “Please treat dogs better in this country,” Blockhuysen advised. The Koreans, a stone, which from time to time and so is thrown in their garden, did not really like the fallout of the athlete, so in social networks, they organized a flash mob, in which they accused the Europeans of interfering in the internal affairs of the country. As a result, the head of the Dutch sports delegation apologized: “I have to touch upon the incident, which occurred at a press conference. On behalf of our delegation I apologize officially for the statements of the athlete.
Soon there were rumors in the media that dog meat was on sale in Korea at every corner and even in the Olympic Village, and people were trying to replace chicken or beef (chicken and cows are not so actively supported at the Games) with dog meat in public catering. Dog advocates, who had no sympathy for cruel Asian traditions before, were quick to join the conflict and took to the streets with slogans “Dog is your friend or food,” photos and video footage of the killing of dogs on Korean farms. They had previously signed a petition calling for a boycott of the Olympics in a country that eats pets.
“South Korea is the 14th economy in the world, but that country sends 2.5 million dogs and thousands of cats to slaughter each year. It’s called ‘healthy eating.’ Animals are forced to endure deprivation and unimaginable agony from the day they are born until the day they are killed. And South Koreans sincerely believe that the more a dog suffers, the more it will enrich the quality of the meat and increase the health benefits for the consumer. If South Korea wants to be respected as a nation of conscience, then South Koreans should strengthen their animal welfare laws and permanently ban the consumption of dog and cat meat,” the petition said.
Some Olympians have joined the animal rights movement and decided to save the dogs that Koreans let loose on “longevity soup” on their own. For example, gold medalist Canadian figure skater Megan Duhamel is taking home with her a dog she bought from a dog meat farm. The girl named the puppy Moo-Tai and wrote on social media that he loves to sit in her arms. Now Duhamel encourages all athletes to follow her example. Coach Duhamel wondered where the athlete found the dog, because there are no such farms near the Olympic Village, and no dogs were seen.
WHY THEY EAT DOGS IN KOREA
The eating of dog meat in Asian countries is an old tradition, only in China has dog meat been used for food since 500 B.C. In ancient times, dog meat was eaten not only in Asia but also in Mexico, for example. As for Korea, originally dogs were not perceived there as “human friends” but were raised as livestock. Today, nothing has changed in this regard; dogs, like cats, are not pets. According to Koreans, the difference between a livestock and a pet is a matter of subjectivity.
The tradition of eating dogs has no religious or mythological explanation, Alexander Vorontsov, candidate of historical sciences and head of the Korean section at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told a MIR 24 correspondent. According to him, Koreans, like other Asians, eat dog meat because they believe it is good for their health.
“It’s a national tradition. Why do some people eat pork and others don’t. We can all look sacrilegious in the eyes of Muslims, too. Why do we have to go with our mouths into someone else’s monastery? This is an ancient tradition, which was born long before Europe, and in China at that time there was already a highly developed civilization and a whole class of highly educated people. It is good for health, they believe. Many people consume various animals to keep their bodies healthy. There is no religious-mythical explanation. Koreans prefer to eat dogs of specially bred breeds on farms, but that doesn’t mean a mutt can’t get into the pot. Many people talk about the cruel way dogs are killed, but why aren’t cows, pigs and chickens lethally injected? The Dutch would probably be outraged, too, if they were told that their national mills were fed up,” said the historian.
Asians believe that dog meat increases potency and cures tuberculosis; many rice pickers, for example, who spend most of their time working in water, suffer from it. Such explanations allow Koreans to maintain dog markets, which horrify tourists and all those who are not familiar with this part of Asian culture. Dogs are kept there, indeed, like cattle. They are kept in cramped cages with 20-30 animals sitting on each other. They are slaughtered right in front of the customers. Today there are over 17,000 industrial dog farms in South Korea and 2 to 2.5 million dogs are slaughtered each year.
But even these living and dying conditions are the result of the struggles of animal advocates, including world-first stars. Just 10 years ago, dogs were slaughtered right on the streets, not in a designated area.
It is unlikely that Koreans, like other Asians, will give up dog meat in the near future, according to Korean historians. As of today, dog meat is a holiday food, not part of the daily diet, said Konastantin Asmolov, a PhD candidate in history at the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University.
“Koreans have long reacted to these accusations like this: ‘This is our national tradition. Nothing can be done about it.” If during the 1988 Olympics, when Koreans were more dependent on outside opinion, they renamed dog soup “longevity soup” and removed such restaurants from the streets, placing them inside alleys rather than on the big streets, now the Korean position is reduced to the following: “We don’t harass anyone, we don’t do anything particularly violent, we don’t include this food in the compulsory. Whoever wants to be offended, let them be offended, but we’re not going to look back on anyone.”
For a number of reasons, the tradition of eating dogs has its roots in Korea. Everyone knows that Koreans eat dogs. But dog is a food for festive occasions. All sorts of talk that Koreans will slip you dog meat under the guise of pork is like assuming that they will cook you sturgeon and pass it off as pollock. Dog meat is not an everyday food – it is an elite food for festive occasions. But this meat is not very expensive,” said Asmolov.
At the same time, the expert notes that today less dogs are eaten in Korea, and the topic itself often becomes a litmus test for the media and the public. Korean society is not aggressive in discussing this problem. They are used to it.
“All these things have to do with the fact that, first, a more Europeanized generation has emerged for whom a dog is not a food but an item for ‘ooopsie-poosie,’ and second, the generation that remembers what it is to live in the countryside and slaughter livestock there themselves has gone. Young people are used to having sausage miraculously produced in their refrigerator. Besides, since Korean public opinion in this direction is not very aggressive, this is a good way to score points on a topic you can bring up without significant risk. That’s why this scandal isn’t very scandalous. On the one hand, pet advocates have a lot to worry about, but on the other hand, how many demonstrations for the rights of French frogs have you seen? Please note that in relation to China or Korea, the zoo defenders are foamy, but other countries, where dogs are also eaten, are somehow forgotten,” Asmolov noted.
A ban on the killing of dogs has been introduced in the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong, but experts say that this ban has no practical application. Dogs are still being killed. But there is room for socio-political maneuvering and the work of black markets, of which there are many, and their activities can no longer be regulated. In Vietnam, even more dogs are killed than in Korea, about five million a year, and even stolen dogs are often used for meat. The level of consumption of dogs is also maintained in Cambodia.
HOW THE DEATH OF DOGS IS CELEBRATED IN CHINA
When experts talk about the lack of ritual in the eating of dog meat, they still miss one important event that takes place in China. Every year, the city of Yuilin celebrates Summer Solstice Day from June 21 to 30, the most important tradition of which is the eating of dog meat. Over 10 days, city residents slaughter about 10,000 to 15,000 dogs, believing that dog meat dishes ward off the warmth of the summer months.
In June 2015, a petition was drafted in Britain demanding a ban on the festival, an initiative that gathered three million signatures. The Chinese government even went along with the public and banned the bloody festival. However, this led to citizens accusing the state of pandering to European influence on the country. The government quickly rejected the ban, arguing that the Yuilin festival is too old a national tradition and that dogs are killed humanely on these days. But footage that appears online from time to time from the Yulin festival suggests otherwise. Cheerful Chinese people sit at tables and watch dogs being killed.
Let’s go see dogs eat dogs in Jeju, South Korea
Before getting to all these delights, it is worth going through the airport test . No, no, the airports in South Korea in general and in Jeju in particular are good, but they require care. If one is as pedantic as the Koreans themselves, no one will be dying to run illegally through all the customs checkpoints screaming, “This is Sparta!”
Difficulties at the airport
First, on the plane you will be given a form that requires you to fill in where, why, and for how long you plan to stay in Jeju.
Don’t lose it and take care of it like a Golum shore ring. If you are lucky enough to get drowned and lose the invaluable form, do not rush to the customs checkpoint when you get off the plane. This is where you need attention and the ability to turn your head to 360 degrees.
Difficulties at the airport
As a rule, there are always stands with the notoriously familiar forms, they are always extremely unrecognizable and located a mile away from the checkpoint. There are forms in different languages and in Russian, too, so it is not necessary to know English.
Secondly you should exchange your currency to Korean Won right away because you are likely to pay in cash.
How to get there
There are several ways to get from the airport to the desired address in Jeju City, the capital of Jeju:
- The most comfortable is a cab (the most expensive).
- Buses numbered 100, 200, and 500.
- Free is not available to everyone. Only those who choose to stay in a hotel. Hotels have their own free buses that take their guests from the airport.
If you choose to stay in the resort town of Chungmun, you can take bus number 600, they run every 15 minutes. There are also buses that go to Sogwipho, which pass through Chungmun.
How to get there
What to do
If I were to describe Jeju in a few words, it would sound like this: sunny, green, lots of rocks and strong women who are nurturing families.
The original Hanyeo Museum illuminates the details of the traditional craft of Korean women, the pearl fishers. These brave ladies make their living by diving to no small depths without scuba diving.
Fans of the pilot should visit the Teddy Bear Museum, which presents the largest collection of teddy bears of all colors and sizes.
But most importantly the beaches are unbelievably beautiful. There are a lot of beach recreation areas in Chungmun and Sogwipho. Diving, relaxing on the beach, beach bars and excellent Asian service.
What to do
Jeju is perfect for those who are lured by pristine, mysterious Asia. Unlike Seoul (the capital of South Korea), a modern metropolis full of fashionistas and k-pop fans, Jeju still retains its original Asian spirit from the Mongolian era.
Notable sights include enormous statues somewhat reminiscent of those on Easter Island.
For lovers of ethnicity and meditation, there is a unique temple, where you will find an escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world and even be able to become a monk and live as a monk at the temple a couple of days for a fee.
It is also worth visiting the Hallasan National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is nothing better than to rent bikes, ride through an evergreen park and have a picnic. Here you don’t even have to take food with you, enterprising Koreans have small grocery stores and even more attractive local street food sold by Halmoni and Haroboji (grandmothers and grandfathers). Don’t miss the opportunity to make it to the top of the must-see places:
- Mok Sok Won Garden
- Iho Beach
- Yomeji Botanical Garden
- Andok Valley
- Yonduom Rock Park.
- Chonban Manjangul Waterfall.
The Green Tea Museum, located in a bowl-shaped building, is also a must-see. Here you can listen to lectures about teas, attend a tea ceremony, and buy tea as a souvenir or memory of Jeju.
Don’t pass by the Mini World theme park, where you can see sights from all over the world in one visit, from the Eiffel Tower to the Cheops Pyramid. You might also be interested in: Jeju Museum of History and Folklore, Sonip Village Museum.
All in all, this holiday on Jeju Island is more suitable for lovers of historical Asia and believe me nothing in this land will not disappoint.
Last but not least, you can save a lot of money when visiting local cafes, coffee shops, and shiktans (restaurants), because leaving tips here is not accepted and even offensive, keep in mind!
Also it’s worth remembering that if you’re flying in the fall from cold Russia, then wear something that can be quickly changed into something less warm, as at customs control I personally in Martins, skinny jeans and a shirt, almost had to say goodbye with consciousness. Learn from other people’s mistakes and rest your soul!