Launch of a new campaign to end the dog meat industry in South Korea
July 13th 2013
The eating of dogs has long been a contentious issue in South Korea. Those who defend it say it is a cultural right and an issue of national pride, but with the launch of a powerful new campaign, the country’s dog meat trade may finally be coming to an end.
Saturday July 13th 2013 saw the launch of the “Stop It!” campaign. This date coincided with the first Boknal or Bok day – one of the three hottest days in the lunar calendar where it is traditional to eat bosintang (dog meat stew) for its purported cooling properties. Over the months of July and August, tens of thousands of dogs are slaughtered for food having been sourced from dog farms, pounds and the pet industry.
The “Stop It!” campaign was launched by the Humane Action Alliance (HAA), a group of animal protection organisations led by Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), Change For Animals Foundation (CFAF) and Animal Guardians.
Unlike many other previous attempts to highlight the issue, the “Stop It!” campaign encourages Koreans themselves to stand up and bring an end to the dog meat industry. It asks whether culture can still be used to justify the continuation of an industry that involves such inherent cruelty to dogs, promotes unhygienic conditions (which pose a risk to both the environment and human health), and often operates in breach of existing legislation.
“It is often argued that eating dog represents a long-standing culture or tradition. But these can never be an excuse, or used to justify cruelty”, explains Park Soyoun, Director of CARE. “There is mounting concern for animal welfare in South Korea with animal protection activism beginning to constitute a mainstream societal issue”.
The launch saw two flash mobs take place in Seoul, directed by Jung Heon-Jae (choreographer of Billy Elliot in South Korea) with music especially written for the campaign by the country’s popular indie band The Rock Tigers. At the same time, a new documentary was released, exposing the cruel and filthy reality of the industry.
The aim of the Humane Action Alliance and the “Stop It!” campaign is to bring about a permanent end to the dog meat industry in South Korea by changing the socio-legal status of dogs and ensuring proper enforcement of the Animal Protection Law. In addition, it will provide the government with a practical and economically viable way of scaling down, and ultimately ending, the industry.
This can only be done by working in collaboration with concerned South Korean citizens and professionals to expose the barriers that serve to defend the industry. Using extensive evidence and comprehensive research, the campaign will demonstrate that the dog meat industry has no place in South Korea today.
“A ban on dog meat in South Korea would have far-reaching implications on efforts throughout Asia to end the cruel production of and trade in dogs for their meat”, explained Lola Webber, Programmes Leader for Change For Animals Foundation. “Today’s dog meat industry is profit-driven, motivated by commercial reasons rather than a desire to maintain culture or tradition, and is not representative of Korean culture.”
The dog meat debate is a highly emotive and contentious issue within South Korea (as well as internationally). With the increase in pet ownership, tolerance for animal cruelty is decreasing and animal activism has become the fastest growing civic movement in the country.
However, there is still a long way to go. Opinion polls show that, contrary to popular belief, younger generations of Koreans are generally still in support of the dog meat industry; and it would therefore be a dreadful mistake to assume this issue will end in time. Now more than ever, the facts about the production of dog meat need to be exposed so that Koreans can learn the truth about this cruel industry and demand that it ends once and for all.