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

  1. “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.”
    Talk to actual people in the dog trade. If they’re speaking with anonymity, they’ll let you know that that is bullshit.

    • Oh come on.

      I get that you have an agenda, and protecting animals is really admirable, but if you are claiming Koreans eat their pets you are claiming Koreans are a nation of psychopaths. Are you sure that’s advisable stance?

      Humans get emotionally attached. I am the first one to admit that while I eat meat I would be unable to eat a cow I got to know. It’s hypocritical, but it is psychologically healthy.

  2. Hi, whilst i get that eating dog is a part of korean culture there is no way that you can compare it to westerns eating pigs and such. The pigs are killed soley for their meat and quickly. I love south korea but theres no denying that the cruelty is disgusting in the dog and cat meat trade. I feel many people try to say ‘oh but you eat cows and such’ rhe slaughter houses in the west are regulated. In south korea they keep the animals alive to suffer. I visited a dog slaughter house in china once for a documetary and there is no way you can justify the cruelty behind the dog and cat meat trade in east asia.

    • You saw one factory in a different country and you decided to base your judgement of the whole Korea on that?

      On top of that, you are not arguing against eating dog meat, you are arguing for humane treatment and a quick death of any animal.

      A quick google search showed that there are plenty of inhumane slaughtering of animals in the West as well. Just because something is regulated doesn’t mean people follow it.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am all for humane treatment, and hopefully phasing out eating meat completely, especially now that we know how much impact it is on the environment. But this, “West is regulated and civilized, and East is cruel and primitive.” is a really ignorant attitude.

  3. There are two important issues that the author hasn’t addressed when comparing dogs to livestock.

    Firstly; dogs are fellow predators. They are not prey animals like cows or pigs. The natural food chain is based on the consumption of prey. Predators are only killed when there are territorial challenges or extreme food shortages. Fellow predators do not contain the nutrients required for a healthy lifestyle.

    Secondly and most importantly; dogs are a companion animal. The argument that this is cultural is incorrect. It’s not cultural. It’s biological. Dogs evolved with humans tens of thousands of years ago. Dogs played a vital role in human evolution, as they worked with early humans and helped them hunt. The role dogs have played in human society is unlike that of any other species, except perhaps the house cat. No livestock animal is able to read human emotions or behavior, or engage in human activities and culture in the same way as a dog. Dogs specifically evolved to be a companion.

    • “No livestock animal is able to read human emotions or behavior” So you want to pass death sentences on animals based on how good they cater to your emotional needs?

      You are coming up with lots of arguments why dogs are different than cows or pigs, but only one difference should matter: their capacity to suffer.

      You say dogs are predators. Well so are praying mantises. Does that mean it is also worse to kill an insect than it is a cow?

      Dogs didn’t evolve, we selectively bred them, choosing those traits that suit us and paying no attention to how it impacted their health and well-being. We really don’t have the moral upper hand here.

      • With respect, you’re moving the goalpost. The capacity to suffer was not the original argument. You claimed that the reason we don’t eat dogs is a cultural one. I think I have demonstrated that it is not a cultural one but a biological one. Studies have shown that dogs and humans form a symbiotic bond that does not exist in other species, especially livestock. We are evolutionary partners. Scientists do not actually know if wolves chose us or if we chose wolves (or if it was a little of both), but we do know our ancestors worked closely with them and formed a relationship that lasted until this day. Selective breeding is far more modern. Humans are natural predators. We are designed to eat meat (technically we are omnivores, so we need a mixed diet). I would eat a prey animal but I would not eat a fellow predator, especially one that has an evolutionary relationship with humans.

        If you’re going to argue about suffering and pain, then that’s an entirely different argument. All I’m really interested in doing is demonstrating that there is a difference between eating dogs and other animals, and that it is neither hypocritical nor cultural to say that.

        • You have made many incorrect statements while trying to argue your point such as that predators only get eaten in territorial disputes (predators of one species are prey for another) and that selective breeding is a modern thing (we began selectively breeding dogs in prehistory).

          I also did not move the goalpost, I actually reiterated what was written in the article. The reason why animal’s capacity to feel love, fear and attachment is important is because it tells us about their capacity to suffer.

          You eat meat which you eat because of the culture you were born in. Did you sit down when you were 18, were presented with meat in front of you for the first time ever, and given to choose which animals you will eat or not? No, you were not. Like any other person, who doesn’t eat cows, or doesn’t eat pigs, or eats dogs, you have grown up surrounded by people who eat that way. And like any other person you think your culture is the only one that got it right and all others got it wrong.

          You pretend to be rational, but you have no rational arguments, all of them are based on emotions: “fellow” predator. I can do exact same thing you did and cherry-pick some difference to justify dietary choice: pigs are very genetically similar to humans, far far more than cows and dogs. They are so similar that sequencing genome of pigs helps us find treatment of human genetic diseases.

          I have now demonstrated there is a difference between eating fellow pigs and other animals.

          • I understand what you’re trying to get into, but my focus right now is on your original argument as to whether or not it is hypocritical to eat pigs while not eating dogs. Dogs are predators, they evolved alongside humans to help us hunt and survive, they are capable of understanding human emotion, and we have a symbiotic relationship with them. None of these things are true with any livestock animal. I am presenting the argument that the relationship humans have with dogs is an exclusive one not shared with any other species (though cats do indeed come very close, and have a similar history in places such as Egypt). Because of this relationship, and the fact that many cultures (not just Western ones) consider dogs as ‘man’s best friend’, my argument is that there is no hypocrisy involved and that eating dog meat is indeed very different to eating pig meat.

            • You didn’t, though. I’m sorry but there is a mountain of scientific evidence, including a multitude of studies, that show that humans and dogs have a symbiotic relationship. Culture has nothing to do with it.

            • Humans and cows also form symbiotic relationship. Domesticated cows can’t survive without humans any more, and we use them for food and many other products. That’s symbiotic mutualism. We are also in symbiotic relationship with corn. And intestinal bacteria LOL.

              Also it is not clear why it would be less acceptable to eat species that form symbiotic relationship.

  4. I am Korean and vegan since 1990.
    Yes, it’s terrifying to see how dogs are treated before they are eaten in Korea. But, I find it no less terrifying how other animals are treated before they are eaten everywhere on earth.
    To me, it’s not logical to categorize animals that humans can eat or not. And, it shouldn’t be about logic, either.
    I’d feel pain watching an animal killed to be eaten, be it a chicken or dog or pig or cow or whatever.
    I won’t kill any animal unless it’s a threat to me or my family. I believe most people are the same.
    People eat meat because they don’t have to see the cruelty and it’s convenient and cheap and are taught that they are good for you.
    I think those who are criticizing the blogger is not getting the point or have multiple standards.

    I think the large corporations that are ‘producing’ meat products and those who promote them for profit are evil. People conceive these as mere products and even have notion that they are healthy. I once did myself. I think it’s only a matter of time that more and more people will see the realities of farm animals they eat. When enough portion of the people become aware, others will no longer be able to ignore what they are actually eating.

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