What do I Think Of South Koreans Eating Dog?

Whenever I heard people talk about countries like China and Korea eating dog I used to think that this was some sort of crazy rumor that made its way across the pond. However, one day I ended up moving across the pond myself-to South Korea. It was while living here that learned that this “rumour” was in fact very true.

What do I Think Of South Koreans Eating Dog?
Living in a rural town, I got a look into this business first hand. One day while walking to work something stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a truck driving past me and the back of it had a cage filled with stray dogs-crying and whimpering. These poor dogs were being collected to be cooked and made into dinner.

Knowing their fate, I froze. I could feel my heart breaking. I wanted to do something, to chase after the truck and free those poor souls! But there was nothing that I could do. I hopelessly watched the truck drive away as the sound of whimpering slowly faded with it. 

South Koreans do not deny that there are dog restaurants, and while it is technically illegal, these restaurants do still exist. It’s a bit of a grey area.  I have even had some of my young students tell me that they have eaten dog.  

My friend, who was a teacher in South Korea, ate the school lunch one day only to find out afterwards that what she had eaten was dog! Luckily, I am vegetarian so I can confidently say that I have never accidentally eaten dog…I hope. 


While your first instinct might be to lecture South Koreans as to how cruel they are, I made myself stop and take a moment to reflect. I was in their country and needed to make sure to process the differences in our worlds before being so quick to judge.

As a vegetarian you would imagine that I would be specifically sensitive to the killing and eating of dogs. This is not true. I am no more sensitive to the killing and eating of dogs than I am to any other animal (which frankly is quite sensitive).

In Western society it is illegal and seen as cruel and inhumane to kill dogs. You go to jail for it. Yet, when it comes to another animal with four legs, a beating heart, personality and even a more intelligent brain than a dog (such as a pig)-it is perfectly fine to slaughter and eat it. I mean, it just tastes so delicious.

Why is it illegal and unethical to slaughter a dog but not a pig? Because a pig tastes better? Because dogs can play catch?

What do I Think Of South Koreans Eating Dog?

I am not saying that I support the  dog killing industry by any means, but I will not judge South Koreans any more harshly than I judge my own society for parallel actions.

This is a topic that I have questioned many times in my life and even wrote a research essay on it back in university. My essay was about ‘Speciesm’-a term used to describe the difference in the treatment of animals based on their species.

Since living in South Korea, this issue was brought back to light for me with their eating of dogs meat. I decided to revisit my old essay. It’s not the most light-hearted essay and I can’t see it trending on Buzzfeed anytime soon. I want it to be clear that I didn’t write it to start a debate or offend anyone who does eat meat. In fact, the only eyes I wrote it for were my professors-to read and grade.

However, I do believe that this is an issue that is rarely brought to light and I decided to post on my blog for anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper insight into why  as a society we can justify eating pigs but not dogs. 

You may click here for a full page view. 

While looking into this issue again recently I came across this documentary that is actually called Speciesism! Just came across this and am excited to give it a watch. We are the most powerful animals on the planet but that doesn’t mean that this is our planet. It is important that we use this power carefully and not destructively. I think a little awareness brought to how we treat the animals on earth could bring a world of good, literally.

 

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What do I Think Of South Koreans Eating Dog?

3 thoughts on “What do I Think Of South Koreans Eating Dog?

  1. As a vegetarian, I couldn’t agree more Tessa.

    In India, cows are holy (due to their importance in agrarian economy – bulls for tilling, cows for milk, medicines and manure) and hence forbidden forbidden to kill.Pigs are not big either so as to not offend Muslims. But no tears shed for poor water buffaloes, chickens and goats.

    I’ll let you in on a popular Indian joke describing our ambiguous morality –
    So as Christians have Sunday marked for church, Hindus have Tuesdays and Saturdays reserved for worshipping. Now Hinduism forbids eating any animal ( contrary to popular belief that its only cow), so what we have today are three types of Indians- vegetarians, non vegetarians and “Tuesday-Saturday wale”- last one being common term for all people who are vegetarians on certain holy days. Human hippocracy knows no bounds. Ha ha.

    Even PETA of Korea exclusively focuses on cruelty to dogs so as to not be shunned altogether by the huge non-vegetarian community. Or may be its just an eg. of Western view, as you so rightly mentioned.

    Excellent blog on a taboo topic. Keep on broadening people’s minds with such dextrous writing.

    PS; Your essay was very good. Thanks for introducing me to Peter singer

    1. It’s interesting to learn how Indians also have different perceptions of animals that should be more respected than others. It really goes to show that what we grow up thinking is so clearly of right vs. wrong can be vastly different elsewhere. Do you know what Indains would think about eating dogs?

      Thank you for reading my essay! 🙂

  2. India is a heterogeneous union of 29 states, 8 of which (Kerala, West Bengal and north eastern states) have cuisines involving cow meat (no ban on slaughter, consumption and no social pressure)
    and 5 of which (north eastern tribal states bordering china and Myanmar) have cuisines involving dog meat. It is perfectly legal and acceptable in whole India, and not much frowned upon as India lacks a dog pet culture unlike USA. But due to global influence, people of late have become more critical and less respectful of each other’s differences.

    India is starkly different from Korea and the west as the underlying principle is “live and let live” and freedom from conformity. You can notice it in religion, food habits, traffic rules and regrettably poor civic sense – Hinduism is not prescriptive as Abrahamic religions with no pressure to follow any rules to peacefully accomodate all diverse faiths and beliefs.Even the constitution gives right to follow (or not follow) any religion in any way we think fit. No prohibition on food, language etc. We are taught to happily accomodate and adjust with everyone- a trait without which it would be impossible to hold India with all its varied cultures together.

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