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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 28 May 2002 Issue

NEW DEVELOPMENTS / STRATEGY in KOREA ANIMALS MATTER!

3.     The Daily Mail new article

Copyright 2002
Daily Mail (London)
Tuesday May 14, 2002
SECTION: Pg 10

HEADLINE: 
As the BBC says sorry to World Cup hosts over dogmeat 'jokes...' Koreans DO eat dogs.  It's disgusting.  And I won't apologize for exposing the truth.

BODY:
Radio 5 Live, the BBC's sports station, has never been noted for its seriousness.  But over the past few days its propensity to trivialise an issue of major importance has plumbed new depths.

This time the issue is the barbaric ill-treatment and consumption of dogs in South Korea.

The decision to joke about this disgusting practice on its World Cup website was ill-judged enough.  'Over here, a dog is for Christmas,' some Beeb wag wrote, 'over there, it could be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

But by giving a groveling apology in the face of complaints from British-based Koreans, and replacing the item with an inaccurate 'correction'-that 'only a handful of Korean men eat dog-meat during the summer months for health reasons'-the station's bosses may have condemned millions more dogs to die.

Doubtless the BBC will dismiss this suggestion as hysterical nonsense.

Harrowing

Yet having recently traveled to the World Cup host country to conduct a lengthy inquiry in to the shameful slaughter of dogs for the dinner table, I fear it will be the outcome.

Why? Let me begin by apprising the 5 Live gag-writer-who have doubtless never set foot in Seoul, let alone witnessed the harrowing scenes in the city's Moran market, where dozens of condemned dogs are piled up in cages like discarded old rugs-of some hard facts.

First, it is simply not true that dog-based dishes are something of a rarity.  According to the last available Korean government statistics, in1993 some two million dogs were killed and eaten there: equivalent to one animal for every 23 people.

If this figure has reduced very slightly in recent years, it has done so only because the Far Eastern economic downturn has mad the price of dog-meat-a whole animal cost around 140-prohibitive for all but the affluent,
middle-class professionals.

Nevertheless, more than 6,000 restaurants still serve dog-based recipes, the most popular being boshintang, a soupy stew enjoyed particularly during the oppressively humid summer months, when it is said to replace lost energy.

In addition, millions Koreans regularly celebrate a major event-a work promotion or moving house-with a banquet at which dog-meat is served in all manner of ways (a recently-published cook book listed more than 80 recipes).

So much for claims put about by Korea's London and Washington -based diplomats, and repeated slavishly yesterday by the BBC, that Korean's 'don't eat dogs like we eat beef or chicken'.

Of course, there are people who will ask what business it is of ours to criticize another country's culinary traditions when we slaughter cows, sheep and pigs ourselves.

Cruelty

As a dog-lover, my own response would be simply that dogs have always been companion animals, and are even kept as pets in Korea-though, bizarrely, many are sold for food when they grow old or their owners no longer want them.

But even if one rejects the argument that dining on spaniel or poodle is any different to eating beef or lamb, the conditions in which Korea's dogs are kept are so appalling that one grounds of sheer cruelty the industry ought to be banned outright.

Football fans visiting the new, state-of-the-art World cup stadium in the city of Daegu next month need only drive 20 minutes to the bustling local market to see this for themselves.

From the outside, the market is a colourful spectacle, with stalls of exotic fish, vegetables and spices.  Venturing inside, through its narrow walkways, one uncovers a hellish vision.

What hits you first is the nauseat9ng stench.  Next, one reaches table of upturned dogs, all of them freshly electrocuted, skinned, roasted and ready for the table.

But worse, by far, is the sight of the living dogs, crammed into cages barely high enough for them [to] stand on all fours.

The Koreans will tell you, as if this somehow legitmises the industry, that only specially-bred nurangi yellow dogs are eaten.

This is another blatant lie.  I was offered all kinds of breeds, including a collie and a sad-eyed old spaniel; to the Koreans one dog tastes much like the next.

They are equally fond of cats, which are kept in even worse conditions and rendered down for a tonic drink.

Most of the dogs I found at Daegu market were also destined to be boiled and sold as a 'health drink' called gaesoju.

One man showed, without any hint of shame, how their carcasses were placed into giant vats with ginger and herbs and sold in plastic containers.

He seriously hoped to sell many of these to visiting soccer fans

Back in 1988, when South Korea hosted the Olympic Games, this would have been highly unlikely.  For then, acutely sensitive to world opinion, the Korea authorities went to great lengths to hide their dog-eating habits.

Stall and restaurants near the sporting venues were temporarily closed down.

This was designed to convince the West that in the modern high-tech South Korea, feasting on dogs was a thing of the past.  This time around, the official attitude is nowhere near so defensive.

Buoyed by a wave of nationalism, which hold-somewhat dubiously-that dog-meat is integral to Korean cultural tradition, the government shows no signs of covering up the practice for the duration of the World Cup, much less apologizing.

Radio 5 Live's counterparts in the Korean broadcast media are also giving extensive air-time to its proponents.

Their case is championed by Professor Yong-Geun Ahm, an outspoken academic who has set out his arguments in a 347-page book on the subject, and rejoices in the sobriquet of Dr Dogmeat.

Shame

In a country where contradicting the dog-meat lobby is regarded as tantamount to treason, a small group of campaigners are placing themselves at considerable risk by trying to stop the mass slaughter of dogs.

And it is the belief of these brave people-whom I met on my visit-that the World Cup offers their last real hope of bringing sufficient international pressure to shame President Kim Dae-jung into action.

The BBC remains an organization of hug influence around the world and has the power to stimulate serious debate and alter international opinion.

By dismissing the eating of dogs as a joke, and then apologizing to Koreans who took offence, the voice of the British establishment has effectively condoned a practice that must horrify the majority its licence-paying 
listeners.

The Koreans will take it as a signal that they can continue eating boshintang with impunity and millions more dogs will be stewed.  Doubtless Dr Dogmeat is busy planning a celebratory banquet.

 Kyenan Kum
 International Aid for Korean Animals
 Korea Animal Protection Society
 P.O. Box 20600, Oakland, 94620-0600, USA
 www.koreananimals.org 
 iaka@koreananimals.org

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