‘Do Koreans eat dogs?‘ and Western hypocrisy

How Koreans treat dogs

This is the horrible life Kimchi Man’s dog has :)

Having a Korean boyfriend means getting a few question asked over and over again, every time people find out who you are dating.

“Is he from North or South Korea?”. South of course. “Aren’t they really poor there?” You’re thinking of North again. “Are Koreans Buddhists?” Most are atheists actually, but there is fair share of other religions represented.

And of course, the unavoidable,

Do Koreans really eat dogs?”

Now, other’s ignorance can be mildly annoying. But I am painfully aware of how many things I am ignorant about, so this is actually not the reason why that question annoys me so.

No, it annoys me because of the underlying criticism. It is a loaded question, with asker being ready to judge as soon as he or she hears the answer.

Now, as the situation stands, majority of Koreans haven’t tried dog meat. Even fewer eat it regularly. There is a large group of Koreans that is very strongly against eating dog meat. Then there is yet another group who doesn’t eat dog meat themselves but feel others should have the right to do so if they wish. And yet another group, albeit a lot smaller one, who believe it is an important part of Korean history and as such should be preserved.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the dogs they do eat are not pet dogs. It’s not like Koreans get hungry someday, see they forgot to stock the fridge and decide that their beloved pet would make a nice roast. They eat the so called livestock dogs, which are a different breed of dogs and are bred just like any other cattle humans eat.

But as far as the dog-eating itself goes, I have to ask, why not?

“Gasp!” you might say, “she promotes eating puppies!”

Not at all, I would never eat dog meat, but I know why not. What I am wondering is, do you?

Dogs are very intelligent you might say, they feel love, fear, pain, just like we do. They get attached to humans. Well, so do pigs. And did you know that cows have best friends, and if they get separated from each other they show signs of great stress? I bet you didn’t think you’re eating someone’s best friend.

Cute Piglet

Just in the 2011 U.S. exported 1.75 BILLION of tons of pork and over 900 million tons of beef Exported. That doesn’t even include the amount that was eaten there. Just compare that to 8,500 tons of dog meat that are consumed per year in Korea and you will see it is a staggering difference.

Of course, this is obviously not aimed at vegetarians, or people who are aware of the hypocrisy. It is aimed at those who say: “They eat dog meat!? How repulsive and primitive!” while chewing on their pork chop.

So why don’t I eat dog meat? ONLY because of the culture I’ve been brought up in. I view dogs as pets and nothing more, I would be unable to stop thinking of them that way throughout the whole meal and it would certainly ruin my appetite, if not make me downright nauseated. On the other hand when I bite into beef I don’t even think about where it came from, since it’s been presented to me as food since I was a small child. It’s nothing more than social conditioning. But to think that makes me morally superior to Koreans would take a very heavy twisting of reality.

 

Edit: 21th of July, 2013. All opinions and comments are welcome! However, please stay on topic. Any comments that are off topic will be removed from this point on.

 

 

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58 thoughts on “‘Do Koreans eat dogs?‘ and Western hypocrisy

  1. My grandmother would never eat chicken because she grew up on a farm and knew the chickens her family kept (and would eventually eat.) She saw them as pets and couldn’t get past that even as an adult, although she had no similar issues with beef or pork.

      • I disagree – it is not simply all about ‘our perception’.
        Although I do not eat meat personally it is still valid to understand the animal kingdom as fitting into a kind of hierarchy of sentience. An ape has a high level of sentience for example and a mollusc is down at the other extreme of probably having very little in the way of sentience at all.

        • Hypothetically for example, if I had to choose between killing a pig or a chicken I would choose for the pig to live. My reasoning would be that the pig probably has a higher level of sentience due to its bigger brain. One can also observe animals’ behaviour. We can never know what it is like to be another species but we can make educated judgments based on the facts.
          Writer of the piece – I would say you are over-simplifying.

          • your reasoning is pretty invalid. So it’s OK to eat no-so-smart animals but we shouldn’t eat smart ones? LOL. That’s like saying a mentally disabled kid is worth less than a healthy one. If you are protective of animals, what does it matter if the animal is smart or not? And if you don’t care, the brain size also doesn’t matter. It REALLY is coming down to how you grew up. If you grow up seeing your parents are vegetarian, most probably you won’t eat meat youself, even as a grown-up. I grew up i a small village where it was pretty common to eat horse meat too in a sausage form. A few years ago a fellow ‘villager’ brought horsemeat sausage to my workplace and our city-dwelling colleagues, who have no problem munching away on large chunks of pork or beef, were utterly terrified. It’s a matter of what you got used to. If you grow up in a community where eating dog meat is considered normal, chances are you won’t mind eating yourself. Other communities eat worms, snakes and the like. The French eat frogs. So what?

            • You said this very well. People do in general feel more empathy the more the creature is intelligent, but every person draws their own line what they would eat and these lines are pretty arbitrary.

              But I chose the example of pig and dog precisely because they are around the same intelligence, so that argument really is invalid.

              The example of cow and horse is also a good one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the cow was actually the more intelligent of the two.

              • Not to mention that nobody asks the horses if they want to be rode or not and being hit with a stick to run faster… :) or wether dogs like to be on a leash and walked around whenever the owner feels like. Or weather parrots like to be kept in cages. And the list could go on and on and on.

              • Regarding the subject of dogs versus pigs I would agree that they are probably of a similar level of sentience and that the double standards applied to these animals has to do with the fact that pigs have not generally been kept as pets. Anyone that has a cat or a dog for example eventually comes to the intuitive realisation that they are actually dealing with a person – similar in sentience to a small child. Hence the Western gut reaction to the idea of eating – and therefore killing – dogs and cats. Most people would not be able to fluently articulate the reason for this reaction.
                The reason people do not see pigs and cows in this way is because most people do not have the opportunity to interact closely with these creatures and come to the same realisation. Therefore I would say the double standard is based more on ignorance rather than willful hypocrisy. As Paul Mccartney says – “if slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarian”.
                But my interest is not in any East/West divide, comparison or controversy or hypocracy.
                The cultural reasons for the openly and unremittingly savage treatment of the food trade dogs and cats (and probably other animals) in SE Asia I cannot fathom. I just know it has to stop.

              • Well, since you’ve finally agreed with everything I have said in this article, may I suggest that you stop wasting your time commenting on the blog of two people who have never done anything to dogs apart from treating them with utmost dignity and actually use that energy to go find people who do torture animals?

                Right now it just seems you are trying to prove you are morally superior, instead of actually helping those poor dogs.

            • The word ‘intelligence’ is yours not mine. We as humans are used to thinking of ‘intelligence’ in terms of ‘cleverness’ or ‘IQ’ – which is not what I refer to. I use the word ‘sentience’ which is more to do with the level of actual consciousness a given creature possesses. To go back to an extreme example I would say it is reasonable from what is scientifically known so far to say that a mollusc is not that much more conscious than, say, a plant. So I disagree – it doesn’t “REALLY come down to how you grew up” at all.
              I wasn’t brought up as a non meat eater btw.
              It is true that culture can obscure your view of the animal cruelty around you. In ‘the West’ we have many laws against animal cruelty but we allow ourselves to be lied to concerning the level of ‘humane’-ness of the meat and dairy industry. However, this does not let ‘the East’ of the hook – not at all. China for example has no anti-cruelty laws at all – and you can tell.
              When is comes to the suffering of other highly sentient beings my chosen attitude is not ‘so what?’.

              • Oh come on. Who is saying East should be left off the hook?

                The only thing this article claims is that one should not have double standards. It does not suggest what those standards should be.

                As far as I can see, you are the only one here who is trying to impose her own standards on others.

  2. No, never! But I live vegan, so eating any animal is not acceptable for me, I don’t care if it is chicken, pig, dog, living beings held like that and tortured just for our 10 minute pleasure is simply one of all those selfish things humans are doing to other species on this planet.

  3. My Korean boyfriend told me that he’s eaten dog before, in a soup. It doesn’t really matter to me, because it’s all based on one’s cultural perspective. I just thought it was interesting.

  4. This article deflects from the intense and deliberate cruelty and animal abuse inherent in the dog meat industry throughout SE Asia and especially in Korea. This is due to the belief that causing the dog/cat to suffer and fear before it is killed enhances the final ‘product’.
    Dogs are crowded in tiny cages with their snouts bound. They are starved,beaten, hung, blow torched, boiled alive, roasted alive and cats are even cooked alive in pressure cookers. The evidence is all over the internet with a simple search for ‘dog meat trade’.
    To the writer – you should be ashamed that you let your petty ‘annoyance’ prompt you to write such a shallow, ignorant article.

    • I am not ashamed at all.

      Great majority of people who oppose eating dogs are doing so purely on “moral” grounds and base it on dogs being pets. Actually, all of the people I ever talked to. For that reason I chose this aspect to write about.

      Treating animals cruelly and using them as food are two completely separate issues because both can be done one without the other.

      Also, West is not immune to atrocious treatment of pigs, cows, chickens, etc.

      • ‘Great majority of people who oppose eating dogs are doing so purely on “moral” grounds and base it on dogs being pets” – How on earth would you know that? Have you done a survey??
        Your arguments are moral/cultural relativist bs the intention of which is to deflect. I do not eat any meat and am of the opinion that all meat eating inherently causes cruelty but any idiot can see that what goes on with the dog meat trade is as evil as it gets. Either you have not bothered to view the evidence or you have and are amoral.

        • Using more insults does not make you more right. If you are not capable of controlling your emotions and discussing this in civil manner I’m afraid I won’t reply to any more of your comments.

          If you didn’t kick out the next sentence when quoting me you would see that I am obviously talking about my own experience.

          I still see no reason why even those that eat meat couldn’t fight for humane treatment of those animals, including dogs.

          I am not ignorant about what happens to dogs, I am just aware what happens to cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, etc. I don’t know about you, but chickens lying in their own excrement because their legs have snapped underneath their own weight due to hormones they have been overfed with seems quite evil as well. And this is just tiny part of what happens in the US, and I assume in Europe as well although we may be less transparent about it.

          You seem to be very passionate about spreading vegetarianism, so if I may offer a piece of advice: attacking and insulting people will never make them change their minds. It will just make them dig in deeper.

          • To suggest you are amoral is not an insult it is a valid supposition. I honestly am not that bothered if you choose not to reply. My intention is to put an end to the vile dog meat trade for the reasons i have laid out above. And the lame whataboutery you preach does not help with this. Your priority is for people not to judge Koreans – I think Koreans can fend for themselves. So I think your position is shallow and self-serving.

            • Immoral might have been an insult. Amoral is not, I agree. But I wasn’t referring to that anyway.

              I hope your mission is a success and you manage to spare some animals from suffering.

              I do not see how asking people not to use double standards when judging other nations is shallow and self-serving.

        • In reply to your post starting with ‘Immoral might…’ (the ‘reply’ option is somehow missing…?) Its ‘shallow’ because your boyfriend is Korean and that’s why it bothers you – you are really just thinking of yourself. The expectation for everything to be equal and consistent in life is one of the great distractions of our age by the way – there are more important things to worry about.

          • you forgot to reply on what the difference is in treating dogs bread for their meat and treating pigs and the like. You make it sound like dogs bread for their meat are treated worse than other animals, which is untrue. You really don’t want to visit a chicken factory, I BET…. I feel you are really just trying to attack and really have no consideration of what others write to you. This is not an intellectual debate this way, only shouting away. The writer of the article writes from her experience. How about you? Ever been to Korea, talked to Koreans?

            • Dogs bred for meat are certainly treated worse than other animals – this is because of the food torture culture where there is the belief that causing the dog to be in pain and fear enhances the final meat product. So we are talking about boiling alive, beating to death, hanging for example. There is plenty of clear evidence for this all over the internet available with a simple search. There are laws certainly in the UK which would make such treatment of any animal very much illegal. I have not seen or heard of any evidence of this belief in torture would apply to pigs for example in the SE Asian countries in question though it wouldn’t surprise me if they were badly treated as they seem to have little in the way of animal welfare legislation at the moment unfortunately.
              Although I would agree there is cruelty involved in all ‘meat production’ the dog/cat meat is of the nastiest order.

              • I am incorrect about what? If there are laws they are certainly not enforced at all. There are people in Korea this week who will be filming the evidence as it happens – it is very open. A documentary movie will be released soon – ‘Bokdays – Hidden in the Land of the Morning Calm’ it was screened at Cannes this year having been funded by various charities. Maybe that will be the proof you need.

              • Even you have no idea what you’re trying to prove here.

                First you say cruelty happens everywhere, but at least the UK has laws against it. Then I tell you that there are same laws in S. Korea and now what?

                You should watch Food Inc. It’s already out.

                I am not the one that needs proof. I never claimed there is no cruelty towards dogs.

                From the beginning of the post, to every last comment I have written here, I have claimed only one thing: We shouldn’t use double standards.

                If after all this you have not got that, I’m sorry, but I give up.

              • Not all ‘cruelty’ is equal. You know that anyway. Why do you keep removing the reply option from your posts? It’s made the debate read like chaos…

              • For the last time, I am not removing anything. There is a default limitation of how many comments can appear nested. Web page has limited width.

              • Look if it makes you feel any better I agree ‘We shouldn’t use double standards’. But when you write a piece about the dog meat trade and that’s your main worry – your priorities are wrong and you are sending out the wrong message. I hope you get that.

              • i agree with brigit pimm strongly. also i’d like to point out the dogs that are used in korean/chinese/vietnamese cooking ARE pets. many have their collars on when they arrive at slaughterhouses. my bestfriends dog was STOLEN from her backyard. many of these animals are rounded up off the streets where i live, in thailand and put in tiny crates (10 dogs per single cage) and tied to trucks and then without food or water taken to country of choice for slaughter.

                what happens is very cruel.

              • Where did you get this information that Koreans eat pet dogs? How do you know the pet that was stolen is to be eaten? Maybe they have collars for other reasons. Could you please link to the source of your information so I can read it?

                This is a wikipedia article about the so called Korean yellow dog that are used for food as opposed to “white dogs” and “black dogs”. Not only that, but Koreans actually think that yellow dogs taste better.
                So why commit crime to steal something that tastes worse than dogs that are actually raised as livestock?

              • i volunteer to save street dogs in thailand with soi dog foundation and i have seen with my own eyes that the dogs are pets.

                also many courtcases detail pet dogs having being stolen.

                i find it quite hypocritical that you are telling commentors not to generalise but how can you generalise that all koreans prefer a certain type of meat i.e. yellow dog.

                if you are interested in actually researching what you’re preaching about – check out soi dog foundation and the illegal dog meat trade. :)

              • Thailand is not Korea.

                I am not generalizing, I am just recapping what I read in wikipedia article.

                I am not preaching anything, except to judge Koreans with exactly the same set of standards that you judge your own country.

              • wikipedia is very unreliable as far as sources go, as anyone can edit it to any extent they wish.

                thailand is not korea, correct, thailand is also not consuming the dogs. korean/chinese/vietnamese companies fund illegal rounding up and 14hour truck drives of dogs from thailand because its cheaper than raising their own dogs for consumption.

  5. I’ve eaten dog meat on several occasions over here in Korea and like it well enough, although it tends to be quite greasy. Great points about the hypocrisy of differentiating between animals. Beyond social conditioning, there is really no other reason not to eat it. Now, where can I get some cat? :)

  6. Ahjussi,why so serious?it’s not like every single koreans eat dogs….i bet people who eat dogs they dont keep it as a pet…:-)

    Time to eat ramen…chicken ramen please!

  7. dogs are skinned and boiled alive, so i do think it’s fair there is a criticism there. it is illegal for a reason in most countries but i do agree with your points about all animals being unique and able to feel pain.

    its ignorant that we’d choose to value one life but torture anothers. hence why i’m vegetarian, in all honesty any meat eating is just a culture raised thing, and it’s not necessary to eat meat.

    my problem however, is how they are raised. animals that are more deserving of grass and sunshine than any others, i.e. pigs and cows are placed into tiny cages that compress them and forcefed with pipes until their legs break from the weight. they are dragged and beaten until they physically cry with tears and they are inhumanely butchered.

    none of it’s right in my opinion. whether you’re eating a dog or a cow or a pig. respect the life that animal had no choice in suffering through, perhaps consider a more fair option.

    • You make very good points. The skinning and boiling alive is illegal in Korea as well since 2007.

      I agree completly that all animals that are kept by humans, whether they are pets, zoo animals or waiting to become food need to have good quality lives where both their physical and psychological wellbeing are considered.

      However, this is a blog about dating Korean guys so I am just concentrating on that issue, as you called it the ignorance, that one animal life is valuable and other is not when passing the blame to Koreans.

      It’s just something that happened to me personally a few times when I told people where my boyfriend is from.

      Of course there are many important issues to talk about that are not only concerning Koreans, nor animals, but this is Loving Korean after all :)

      • many drugs are illegal worldwide but that doesn’t stop it happening. it just gets sneakier. i agree 100% with your points but some don’t seem fully researched and although i understand you are addressing the judgement applied to stigmas e.g. from eating dog.

        touching on a topic that is clearly very sensitive and having dogs close to me taken for this cruel industry i find it difficult to simply believe people who are funding this industry are simply fine to do as they please and not be judged.

        we judge drug addicts and alcoholics, we say that their actions are wrong and illegal, and i believe the same must be done to those who fund the illegal trading of animals that is against the law for a reason.

          • you’re saying that cruelty when slaughtering the animals is illegal, but so are drugs. something being against the law really makes no difference and you’re just being blind to all the other topics you’ve touched upon in your ‘innocent’ article.

            you’ve offended many with a belief that animals deserve rights, you’ve offended any who believe that governments are incapable of dealing with all the issues at this time across the globe.

            • “… something being against the law really makes no difference …”
              I’m sorry, WHAT?

              This is what I wrote just 2 comments above:
              “I agree completely that all animals that are kept by humans, whether they are pets, zoo animals or waiting to become food need to have good quality lives where both their physical and psychological wellbeing are considered.”
              and that offends people who believe animals deserve rights? Once again, WHAT?

              You and Ms. Brigit Pimm are truly blinded by your cause and can’t seem to understand what is being said here.

              But from the other comments I see that majority of other readers get it.

              I REALLY try to answer all the comments on this site. I’m sorry, but that just won’t be possible here anymore. I will just go use the time I have to answer other comments on other posts in constructive manner. Our loyal readers deserve it more.

  8. Dear god I wish if people had to start an argument it could actually have some relevant information included. Some Koreans eat dogs the same way same westerners eat chicken therefore we shouldn’t judge them any differently to how we judge ourselves. It’s exactly the same thing except we have an image of a dog that can make us attached to it, we see them as pets, some people see chickens as pets, cows as pets. The way they’re breeded, looked after, cooked is not relevant to this article so go somewhere that IS relevent. Pack it in attacking the writer, her article made perfect sense and there is nothing wrong with what she’s said.

    • Hello,

      and thank you for this comment. I really appreciate it because I was starting to doubt if the message I was trying to send was really that much unclear. I am relieved to see that you got my point crystal clear.

      If they were unable to understand when I tried to explain it, hopefully they will get it from your comment.

    • actually ‘anonymous’ haha in other words author ;)
      although i oppose the killing of chickens, beef, etc. dog and cat meat is 5x worse. they are tortured, whereas we have laws ENFORCED to promote painfree deaths (whatever that may be) in korea and china etc. they are killed in a way that promotes pain for a better tasting meat.

      these are animals that whether they’re pets or not, they’re being killed in disgusting ways and until you see it you can’t write an article all artsy fartsy about how wrong it is people judge them.

      DOG MEAT IS FUCKING ILLEGAL. for a reason. we judge other criminals so why should those funding a cruel illegal trade (in majority of pets) be exempt from our judgement. – AS I SAID ABOVE.

      stop sending yourself fake comments and admit you made a mistake. my friends and i followed your account because we thought you were a cool blog but each of us and many more have unfollowed :)

      • As a blogger on WordPress you should know full well that every comment’s IP address is visible, so I can’t comment on my own posts and pretend it is someone else.

        Also, I see how many followers I have, you have no way of knowing how many there are, so your accusations of losing followers are equally ridiculous and unfounded.

        Dog meat is not illegal in Korea. It is not governed by law at all, unlike beef and pork. Torturing animals IS illegal. Get your facts straight. I even provided the link to that law a few comments above. And, for the last time, that is off topic, that is not the theme nor purpose of my article.

        Attacking me and our blog instead of attacking my opinions is clear proof that you are losing this discussion.

      • spraypaintedsoul why are you still banging on about the way animals are killed and illegalities and false accusations? (it was me Lily who wrote the first comment you absolute cretin). If you have unfollowed Oeugukeen’s blog I’m fairly sure she’d be over the friggin moon to be rid of an annoyance like you anyway. Get out and don’t comment back because anyone who has sense will just see it as a desperate attempt to prove right an irrelevant point.

  9. I’ve noticed with animal rights activists, that they frequently place more emotion, more passion, when the targets are east asians than white europeans. For example, the clubbing of baby seals in Canada, the skinning of deer and other furry animals in the US to be hanged on walls as a mantelpiece – sure, activists campaign against it, but the passion is largely absent and restrained. Civil, if you will.

    Now compare things like whaling. Indeed it’s a great example, because Scandanavian nations do it, Japan does it. who gets all the abuse, the pressure? It’s not Norway or Iceland.

    Recently some farmers in Switzerland said it was no big deal eating dogs. Yes, even pet dogs they looked after for a while. I didn’t hear folk like Bridget Pimm and spraypaintedsoul responding with venom as if they had just killed their own children. Yet that is what those of East asian origin face when committing the same acts.

    • I’m also confused why people go through trouble of doing activism half-way across the world when there is so much they could do where they are. But they probably have their reasons.

  10. I dont get it this activist. I have a korean friend and someday I told her that in brazil we eat chicken heart and yeah, I love chicken heart but she was chocked and then she told and explain me very well that in korea some people eat dog meat but she not and I thought that´s is not fair to a dog be killed to be eat but I eat chicken. It´s just a culture differences, and we need to accept. We cant say asians are bad becayse they eat dogs and scorpions and bla bla bla and be offend if someday they say brazilians are bad people because we eat chicken heart. It´s childish come here and make a discution when you cant do nothing. Or you can help in a animal shelter in your city and help and give love to the animals you can help , since you cant save all the animals in the world. if i could do that, i would have a zoo in my home, I just have 7 now.

  11. I feel the same way about the issue. Same with the whole “Japanese eating dolphins! They’re beasts!” situation. Yes I love animals and wouldn’t dare to eat a dog or a dolphin, but that’s my own decision, and I think it’s only fair that others have the right to make their own decisions too. The only thing that would make me question or call out on the issue is how the animal is being treated. If they are abused or inhumanely slaughtered, it really irks me out. People need to eat, make profit, but would it really kill them to be humane? I don’t know, that’s just my own opinion. There’s questionable cuisines throughout the whole entire world, I don’t see why everyone has to make a big deal over it, people in India or Africa probably look at our ‘normal’ meals and laugh.

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