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Eating Dogs: Korean Culture?

By Yoon Kerr

I have observed the tendency to justify the consumption of dog meat from a few area of British media. It puzzles me a great deal why they want to believe that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. Their attitudes then stem from multiculturalism, which in turn probably stems from their guilt over their past imperialism.

No matter what is their true motive in their justification of the cruel and unjust practice, they do not do any services to either Koreans or Korean culture. Such a belief shows gross ignorance in Korean culture if anything and an insult to Korean culture, hence an insult to Koreans.

Any society has its share of cruel and undesirable practices in their past or even today. Let's assume hung, drawn, quarter was, as a way of execution, only practiced in a few countries including Britain. Do you believe that as a part of British culture, provided that culture is something worth keeping and to be proud of? Do you believe no foreigners, at the time such execution was practiced, should have protested to such a cruel practice because it was no concern of theirs? Do you not care a bit when torture and murder practiced on a wide scale in another country?

It is a gross ignorance of Korean culture to regard the consumption of dogs as a part of Korean culture. It deliberately ignores many Koreans who find such a practice horrifying and something to be rid of. It also doesn't acknowledge the fact that eating dogs is a threat to Korean culture and violation of its essence. There is one underlying element which is very crucial to various aspects of Korean culture. That is reciprocity.

In no other culture, I have seen such emphasis upon the value of friendship. In no other culture, I have seen people loving their dogs as much as the dog loving Koreans do even as those who eat dogs want to justify their behaviour at the expense of true understanding of their own culture. This is why so many animal activists in Korea believe eating dogs is wrong. Such a belief reflects the true understanding of their own culture and genuine love towards their culture.

And yes, some practices can betray the essence of culture and that's the case with the consumption of companion animals in Korea. It is a sad fact but the fact does not justify the practice in the name of culture. On the contrary, to honour and protect animals who repay love with love and royalty is to understand and respect Korean culture in true sense. Those who try to justify Koreans eating dogs, Westerners or Koreans alike, do great disservice to Korean culture and Koreans.