In a few hours this article was shared on Facebook more than 400 times and the Korea Observer was getting many new viewers to its site – 66 percent first time viewers to be precise.
This article roused an emotional reaction in many and they felt obligated to share their opinion on this cruel industry.
Some readers were horrified and made comments demanding the end of the dog meat industry in Korea.
A few readers stated that Westerners kill and eat cows, chickens, pigs, and so on, and that those Westerners criticising this practice are hypocritical. Their point is duly noted.
The treatment of battery hens (egg laying chickens) is appalling. Like the dogs in Korea, these animals are put in tiny cages unable to move. Meat chickens live in similar conditions. Their lives are short and their feed often contains additives. The treatment of chickens in the West is an abhorrent practice. The treatment of pigs is similar.
Cows are treated humanely for the most part. People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals demonstrate there are significant steps required before one can argue that Western society humanely treats animals prior to their slaughter and consumption.
The fact that some animals are mistreated before being consumed in the West does not diminish the cruel treatment of dogs in Korea. It also does not make it acceptable.
Even the creator of the Korea Observer wanted to express his rebuttal.
Also, in most Western countries the chicken and pig farm industries are regulated by government and when there is a breach there are penalties imposed.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that dogs are mistreated and the law breached in the dog meat industry, I am yet to see the prosecution of those hanging dogs, setting them on fire while still alive and then hitting them on the head with a metal bar.
The dog meat industry is not tightly regulated and, by extension, allowed to continue the cruelty. Several charities fight for the ethical treatment of dogs in Korea and have a mammoth task ahead of them.
Interestingly, I had a few Koreans deny the footage of dogs being slaughtered inhumanely was taken in Korea. They also rejected the evidence that some pets eventually become dog meat.
This implies that the undercover Co-existence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) volunteers were lying when they conducted thorough investigations of the dog meat industry. That all the photos and footage they gathered were a concoction of lies. I have first hand confirmation from an investigator about the authenticity of the information.
“I wrote CARE’s report on the dog meat industry, and can attest that all the footage, pictures, and quotes are %100 authentic…I worked “extremely close” with investigators,” he said.
I want to say two things to the few doubters. The first is to watch our YouTube footage and compare it to footage also posted by dogisdog.org and various other activists wanting to expose the dog industry for what it is.
The second is to add more information to this story. The Korea Observer received messages from readers thanking us for publishing the article and some shared their experience, which reinforced the accuracy of the articles content.
A few readers wrote that they purchased their dogs from owners that occasionally supply the dog meat trade.
More to the point, as KoreaBang clearly demonstrates dogs are considered by the judicial system as property such as a car or a computer.
February 11, 2014 a man in his 50s killed his neighbors Rottweiler with an electric saw. He was charged with damaging property and received a 300,000 won fine ($276).
In Korea, police charge those who harm animals with property damage because the maximum sentence for cruelty to animals is only 12 months imprisonment or a fine up to 10 million won whereas property damage fosters a sentence up to three years or a fine of 7 million won.
The animal cruelty laws in Korea are too lenient especially when killing someone’s pet dog, which is endemic of a wider issue – many members of the older population see dogs as meat and not pets.
Lee Kyung-hee, a cultural anthropology graduate, said that meat was scarce in Korea in the early and mid twentieth century.
“Families who had cows or other large livestock used them to help plough fields.
The cow was their biggest asset. Pigs were uncommon and not everyone had access to pig meat. Dogs were often seen as a viable meat source and their consumption became an acceptable practice in Korea. There is no reason why this practice should continue today,” she said.
It is unthinkable to kill someone else’s pet with the intention of eating it but it occasionally happens in Korea. In 2013, Park Ji-hye’s pet dog of eight years was killed and eaten by her 60-year-old neighbour after it briefly left her yard. This supports Lee’s explanation of dogs being seen as meat not pets by some of the older generations in Korea.
But, as noted by some readers, there is a positive shift away from cruelty to dogs.
The opinion poll conducted by the Han Gil Research [http://www.hgr1993.com] and cited by CARE supports this. Seventy percent of the 1,000 respondents believed that all dogs should be protected equally under the Animal Protection Act. It is unfortunate that this leaves 30 percent who do not or are undecided.
It is this element that is likely to eat dog meat and perpetuate the inhumane industry in South Korea. It is also this element that most Koreans are ashamed of.
International animal rights movements are attempting to address the cruelty in the dog meat industry. The Change For Animals Co-Founder Lola Webber says it is a very difficult campaign – one that requires the socio-legal status of dogs to be redefined in South Korea.
The words from Lola Webber are a fitting way to finish this opinion piece:
Culture evolves as times change. This is not an issue of ‘culture’ or ‘personal preference’. This is an issue of animal cruelty.
We are working to move this campaign forward, to support those in Korea calling for an end to this industry.
By working with multiple stakeholders, including those involved in the industry itself, it is our hope that we can move on from the circular arguments that detract from the real issue.
Let’s not use the suffering of some species in one country as an excuse for that of a different species in another.
As I was once told by someone who had committed their lives to fighting the dog meat industry in South Korea: until we can gain support for a dog meat ban, what hope do we have for other animals.