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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 28 May 2002 Issue


4.    The Evening Standard UK news Article

Copyright 2002 Associated Newspapers Ltd.
The Evening Standard (London)
May 21, 2002
LENGTH: 1228 words
HEADLINE: Unleash the soccer dogs
BYLINE: Brian Sewell
THE World Cup - a football beano, I had best explain for those who never read the back pages of their newspapers - begins in Korea on the day devoted to St Petronella, an early martyr endowed with power to heal the sick, to whom Sven-Goran Eriksson has recently addressed his prayers for Beckham's broken toe.

The opening rounds for England are, alas, in Japan, and if luck is against the team, they may never have to cross the water to Korea, taking the fans with them. Therein lies my "alas", for I relish the thought of English
football enthusiasts running riot in Korean cities in protest, not at another goal for Argentina punched into the net, but at the Koreans' beastly business of eating dogs. Imagine the furious fans freeing the dogs from the cages in which they, like lobsters in European restaurants, await their deaths, overturning the butchers' stalls, chucking the open-air cooks into the nearest river with their pots and wrecking the 5,000 or so restaurants in
which dog, stewed, braised, roast or as a soup, is the day's special. Is not this hooliganism with a laudable objective aspectacle devoutly to be hoped for?

South Korea is not an impoverished Third World country; one of the world's top 10 or so economies, an unsurpassed wunderkind of pseudo-western development over the past half century, it is a major player in electronics and the motor industry. That it has 10 football stadiums of world class status and is internationally recognised as fit to host the World Cup in half share with Japan, are sufficient indications that the rest of us see it as a civilised country.  And so it is, in many respects, and a classic ancient culture to boot,  distinct from its neighbours, China and Japan. But where the dog is concerned, it is still in the dark ages, brutal, barbarous and merciless.

Dogs are bred for food on 500 or so farms, caged in much the same cramped conditions as our battery hens, suffering much the same chronic disabilities as they gain weight over a year or more. The modern method of slaughter is by electric shock, but the old customs die hard and dogs are hanged or garrotted and, to improve the quality of the meat, pitilessly beaten as they die. I have seen a dog garrotted - it takes much longer than the wire round a human throat; I have seen a dog hanged and been compelled to intervene; neither was a pretty sight - and nor were the expressions of the slaughterers, ranging from indifferent to gleeful.

But I have also done my duty visits to abattoirs in England and what we do to cows and sheep is hardly prettier; as for the poor battery hens ...Why am I then so disturbed, distressed even, by the thought of men eating what we see as our best friends? It is a matter of culture and of circumstance.

There was hardly a cat, a dog or a canary left in wartorn Europe in 1945. My stepfather had my first dog shot in September 1939 and I have a Dutch friend who still weeps at the disappearance of his during the German occupation, convinced that his parents were probably responsible and that he may have eaten part of her. Could I, starving, have eaten my equally starving dog? Had I been with Scott or Shackleton, could I, too, have eaten the sled dogs with an easy conscience? I suspect that I would more readily have eaten a fellow human being. Given the circumstance and the will to survive, we none of us know quite what we might do.

Culture is a different matter. If a thousand years ago, Koreans believed that by eating dog they developed the canine virtues of loyalty, stamina and aggression, so be it, for we, too, then knew the efficacy of dogs' tongues, newts' eyes and frogs' toes - but culture moves on and primitive beliefs must be displaced by reason and enlightenment.   Not, however, in Korea. The number of dogs consumed annually is now about two million and rising.  The dogmeat lobby employs experts in nutrition to preach its virtues over other meats, and the quacks of medicine tell their male clients to eat dog when sexual appetite and potency are on the wane - medicine for the superstitious and the gullible, medicine for men who believe that eating bits of tiger, rhinoceros and bear will remedy their inadequacies and ills.

There is NO economic reason for any Korean to eat cats and dogs.  One might excuse the custom as the relic of an impoverished society, its older inhabitants clinging to a stratagem that saved lives in their youth, but it has now become a fashionable fad food of the young who never experienced their grandfathers' privations. At this point the Korean confronts our distaste with his cultural argument, for in these politically correct times the man who defends a foul practice by saying "it is part of our culture" immediately establishes an inviolable position, leaving his enemy open to  accusations of cultural imperialism.

Throughout June, however, the duration of the World Cup, the Koreans will be the cultural imperialists.   At booths near the stadiums, football fans will be offered free dog stew, dog sandwiches, dog burgers, dog drumsticks, dog kebabs, dog vindaloo and, as a particular delicacy, dog pizzles and dog testicles.   Dog consomme is canned and drunk instead of Coca-Cola and if touched with cream and curry powder may be mistaken for Lady Curzon's estimable soup - visitors to Korea should be extremely wary of where and what they eat!!!

Many of these delicious dogs have endured a life of silence, their vocal chords cut to prevent their barking, their eardrums punctured; not one has ever experienced a moment's kindness from the human beings who breed and market them; all have suffered cruelty of a degree unacceptable in the West.

Unacceptable except, of course, for the calves intended for the veal market, the pigs for cheap bacon, the battery hens for fast-food  merchants, the sheep and cattle destined for the halal butcher, the geese  imprisoned for foie gras, the ducks that never see so much as a puddle of water in which to wet their feet and the whales that die a long and bloody death from the harpoons of our oh so civilised friends in the north, the Norwegians!!!

With whales, we come to the Japanese, the other World Cup hosts. The Japanese are striving mightily to overturn the international moratorium on whaling. They slaughter dolphins in their thousands; they so overfish that vast reaches of the world's oceans have no stock; and they care not a fig for conservation.

They will fish until no fish are left, carve ivory to the last elephant, exterminate the tiger for their fetish talismanic medicine and strip the world's forests of their hardwoods, leaving dereliction in their wake.

GIVE them one whale and all whales will be dead. The only thing to be said for the Japanese is that, as far as I know they don't eat dog. The World Cup could have been withheld from Korea and Japan until the practice of eating dog and whale has ceased; both countries would have huffed and puffed, but both might well have exchanged their barbaric customs for the economic benefits of international sport.

I hold no brief for football hooligans as such, but if, throughout June, they behave in Korea and Japan like the Visigoths of Europe in the Dark Ages and exercise commendable cultural imperialism on behalf of dog and whale, then more strength to their elbows and three cheers for them.

(The previous article was provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

 Kyenan Kum
 International Aid for Korean Animals
 Korea Animal Protection Society
 P.O. Box 20600, Oakland, 94620-0600, USA 
 [email protected]

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