In 2017, a massive rally was held in Korea against dog meat eating in the presence of many foreigners. Koreans have eaten dog meat since long years ago. Still, three million dogs are slaughtered every year. This is why Korea is criticized by animal rights groups, internally and externally. But solving this issue is not simple than thought. In Korea, the people working in dog meat eating industry reaches one million. If the dog meat is banned, their rights for living are threatened. And foreign criticism rather causes opposite effects by hurting our cultural pride. For this reason, the government still cannot find a clear solution for this. Dog is not a simple companion animal in Korea. Dog is a difficult issue with long tradition, politics, economy, and social issues of Korea intricately connected.
A demonstration against dog meat was held in Seoul under the slogan of in July, 2017. It was the first time when such a mass rally was held by over 40 different groups although there were rallies hosted by animal protection groups sporadically. The demonstration was held at the plaza in front of City Hall, informing that eating dog meat is a national problem. Even politicians participated and suggested that this must be solved from political aspects. Even many foreigners participated and showed their international interests.
Koreans have eaten dog meat since long ago. (Cat meat is also still consumed although the magnitude is much smaller than dog meat. Thus this rally was a small issue.) Even now, over 3 million dogs are being slaughtered in a year. In particular, it is traditionally said that it is good to eat dog meat in summer because people become enervated. In other words, people eat dog meat by designating a special day. On this day, more than half are slaughtered.
However, dogs are acknowledged as companion animal worldwide. Dog meat soup of Korea is being criticized internationally. The population raising their companion animals including dog are almost 10 million. And the unsanitary dog breeding and brutal slaughtering process has always been a problem. At this present time that there are a lot of nutritious food unlike in the past, some poses this question, “Why can’t we give up eating dog meat despite international criticism?”
Some might ask, “If so, should we ban eating dog by law?” However, this is not that simple.
In Korea, almost one million people are running a dog breeding farm or operating a dog meat soup restaurant. If dog meat is banned, their rights for living are threatened. Rather, foreign criticism causes opposite effect because it is perceived as interference in a unique food culture. There are also counterviews, ranging from the simple logic of why we can’t eat dog while eating pork, beef, and chicken, stressing that domestic dog is different from companion animal even to the in-depth one that approaches dog meat from cultural-anthropologic perspective.
Still, the government cannot find a clear solution for this issue because they should consider both sides. The government simply cracks down on illegal dog breeding farm or inspects sanitary conditions of dog meat restaurants, but is passive about dog meat eating itself.
Dog is not a simple companion animal in Korea. Dog is a difficult problem with long tradition, politics, economy, and social issues of Korea intricately connected. Animal rights groups say they will hold a mass rally every year until dog meat eating is totally banned and simultaneously launch a grand publicity in solidarity with international animal protection groups. Against this, people involving in dog meat eating industry and advocates are showing their organized movement. The dog meat eating of Korea will be gradually a hot issue.
He is a Korean photographer and photo critic. He majored in fine art photography in Hongik University, Korea and got a doctor’s degree in Art Plastic. He is the first doctor in photography in Korea and now teaching students in universities while working as photographer and photo critic. Furthermore, he has published many books and photo albums, for example <Photo – Theory and Practice>, <A Guide to Photo Viewing>, and <Seoul by Night>.