South Korea will suspend the consumption of dog meat! This practice is certainly not well regarded in many places outside Asia because the dog is considered “man's best friend”. Recently, this subject has come back to the attention of various media because the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, considered the possibility of banning the consumption of dog meat.
Dog meat has been consumed for a long time, but in isolated cases, then it's not something in the South Korean diet. At least up to a million of these animals would be consumed each year in this country. But as South Koreans began to view dogs as more of a pet than a source of food, consumption began to decline, as did animal activists.
The consumption of dog meat is not as large as we imagine, but the small percentage (thought to be only 3.9 %) that still exists causes commotion. And the younger ones completely condemn this practice that in reality still exists due to social inequality.
Beginning of practice
The exact moment when dog meat became common for the South Koreans is not known, but it is believed that it became more consumed from the Goryeo Dynasty (918 – 1392), through Khitan refugees. In Joseon society there was a nomadic people called the Baekjeong, they were the lower class, the first class of butchers.
The first to consume dog meat were the descendants of these classes. They were poor, elderly and generally from the countryside. The Joseon Period government gave the Baekjeong the mission to solve the ferocious animal problem, thus making them a food item for the poorest. But in that same period there were already people against this type of consumption.
A book written by the Korean scholar Hong Seok-mo from the year 1849, contains a recipe for a type of soup whose main ingredient is boiled dog meat (Bosintang) seasoned with green onions and chili powder. It is said that this dish serves to increase virility.
Dogs that are commonly used for meat consumption are the Nureongi (누렁이), a yellowish mixed breed dog that breeds like Labradors, retrievers, and cocker spaniels. This information is from The Korea Observer. Slaughtered dogs are former pets or are bred for that purpose.
The ways of slaughtering are through electrocution, hanging or beating on the head before bleeding. Importantly, practices like this are increasingly rare due to animal protection laws. In the year 2015, it was reported that when retrievers are sold as meat puppies, they cost over 200,000 Korean wons.
Types of dishes with dog meat
bosintang (보신탕; 補 身 湯) – stew with boiled dog meat and vegetables.
Gaegogi Jeongol (개고기 전골) – dog stew in the large Jeongol pot.
Gae Suyuk (개 수육; 개 水 肉) – cooked dog meat
Gaegogi Muchim (개고기 무침) – steamed dog meat with Korean leeks, vegetables and spices.
Gaesoju (개소주; 개 燒酒) – Chinese medicine drink with dog meat, ginger, chestnut and jujube.
In May 1991 South Korea adopted the first Animal Protection Act. Article 7 does not explicitly prohibit the consumption of dog meat, but brutally killing animals. It also prohibits killing animals in open areas.
So there are no laws regarding the humane slaughter of these animals. But the way in which these animals are slaughtered is still being analyzed by the law. In 2008, the Seoul government requested that the dogs be slaughtered under the law, but they were attacked by activist groups.
10 years later, the municipal court in the city of Bucheon ruled that killing dogs for their meat was illegal. As early as 2021, the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, says he wants to end the consumption of dog meat once and for all.
dog meat consumption today
The amount of people still consuming dog meat in South Korea corresponds to 3.9 % of the population, according to a 2018 survey. This low percentage believes in the use of dog meat for medicinal benefits, to improve health and virility.
However, the beginning of this consumption was marked by the issue of social inequality, for dog meat was more affordable than pork or chicken, for example. So much so that these dishes were not easily found in well-known restaurants.
In 2019 a dog meat market in Gupo, South Korea, had its doors closed and a park built in the place. The market was considered one of the largest of its kind in the country. That same year, at least 100 restaurants served this type of dish, but it was decreasing.
After months of negotiation, Korean authorities reached an agreement with the 19 dog meat vendors operating in space. Gupo's market was known for keeping live animals in cages for slaughter and serving fresh dog meat. In 2021 the last market in this field closed. Slaughterhouses were also closed.
Currently many South Koreans have dogs as pets and many are against this type of consumption. Even protests in defense of dogs and the definitive abolition of dog meat are common.
There is still prejudice against South Koreans because of dog meat, but what is not known is that this practice belongs to an older minority and that South Korea is not the only country that consumes it, other countries eat it. dog meat like China, Vietnam and Nigeria.