An Animal Rights Article from


Steve Kuack [email protected]
Story and photos submitted by the author - 21 Jan 2005
(To enlarge the photos, click on the links)

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With the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) designating January as “Unchain A Dog Month,” it is an appropriate moment to reflect on the treatment of animals at a local Korean market. Although a common expression asserts that dogs are a man’s best friend, the way various Koreans treat some of these precious animals makes one feel that they must be sworn enemies.

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A brief visit to the rural Moran Market on the outskirts of Seoul is a walking nightmare for any reason-minded human. As all the animals there surely dream of freedom from their barbaric experience of present confinement and gruesome fate, witnessing what the dogs go through is nothing short of a gut-wrenching, tear-jerking anger-filled episode of rage.


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When will more people appreciate the love, and also be grateful for what can be learnt, from animals? The recent onset of the Asian Tsunami and the animals’ naturally ingrained awareness to move away from the coastline areas of this impending disaster proves yet again that animals have a sixth sense beyond our own comprehension.

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Furthermore, the British Medical Journal reported last year that researchers have successfully trained dogs to use their acute sense of smell to recognize and flag a certain form of cancer. With such remarkably skilled gifts of knowledge that all people can beneficially utilize, each person from every nation must treat these affectionate and innocent animals the way they deserve – with utmost care and respect.

When arriving at this market, Koreans and foreigners alike are welcomed warmly with friendly smiles and kind gestures. The merchants proudly offer their business card to help qualify their credentials and encourage you to choose the animal – in particular, the dog – of your choice. Everything seems to be fine until you “defect” away from their lifestyle and physically or verbally show your objection to their shameful treatment of dogs. Suddenly, at that point, the sellers become vicious in their own right by hollering, waving arms, putting hands in front of cameras, threatening to smash camcorders, and raising their fists like dictators trying to intimidate those who do not follow their outlandish ways.

Many Koreans defend consuming dogs by proudly asserting that it is part of their culture. To some extent, it is understandable that people might be pleased with various aspects of their nation’s customs and traditions. However, if that is the case, then why do these vendors get on the defensive with such passionate angry responses and what are they trying to cover up? They might try to hide it, but they can not run from the evidence of abuse.

Unfortunately, dogs were recently being confined to over-crowded cages in sub-zero temperatures and tossed around for the potential buyers to see all aspects of the body. Although, fortunately, it was not possible to be a first-hand witness to the gruesome torture that the selected dogs experienced, there was unequivocal evidence on display - of what is beyond most people’s realm of consciousness - that these dogs had been hung, beaten with rods and torched. A visit to this market is not a light experience as the graphic end results of such practices are left on the cages for people to view. Apparently, all of this occurs while the dog is still alive because the consumers are misinformed and ignorantly believe that such cruel treatment will make the meat more deliciously tender.

Through all of this, not all Koreans are immune to such supposed cultural practices. Some use their hands to cover their mouths in disbelief, while others sigh in disgust as they walk past such brutal images. Hopefully these people will spread the word amongst their own people with the hopes that this will reduce the couple of million dogs, literally, which are consumed each year. As Koreans become wealthier more people can afford their delicacy, but maybe the populace will hesitate before consumption if they were made aware that the finality of these animals’ lives was a long, slow and undignified experience. Certainly not the way man’s friend deserves to be treated.

Steve Kuack

[email protected]

The writer is a Canadian freelance journalist currently residing in Seoul, Korea.

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