After over two centuries of allowing the consumption of dog corpses, the South Korean government is finally considering formal anti-dog-farming legislation to ban it forever.
A South Korean restaurant serving boshintang -- dog meat soup -- in Uiwang, near a busy railroad line. If the hoped-for anti-dog-farming legislation passes soon in the country, places like this will thankfully close forever. Photo: InSaphhoWeTrust, CC
Every year an estimated 2 million dogs are eaten by South Koreans. That may be about to change.
In the otherwise developed nation of South Korea, dogs are currently categorized the same way chicken and pigs are, as livestock to be mistreated and then killed and consumed. A growing chorus of animal rights activists and increasing pressure by government to clean up a disgusting industry is moving the country closer than ever to banning the practice of serving dogs as food.
In the summer, the eating of dogs as food is at its most popular during what are referred to as Bok Nal Days. During the hottest days of summer, older citizens in particular take part in eating boshintang, a soup made of dogs, in the idiotic belief that the soup benefits health. The name boshintang even translates as "body-preserving soup". The same preparation is also provided as gaesoju, a tonic, which is offered for sale in local medicine shops. Many of less intelligent Koreans believe the soup or tonic can help stimulate the blood, increase energy, or make men more virile. None of this is true but the false beliefs keep the eating of dogs at high level during the summer.
Because the beliefs about dog eating are so built into older culture, the idea of banning the eating of dogs becomes a matter of changing not just habits but fundamental beliefs about the meat of dogs. Thanks to animal activists who have exposed the horrific ways dogs are raised and slaughtered for Bok Nal, as well as a younger generation of South Koreans growing to see dogs more as pets than dinner, the tide on this horrific practice appears to be finally turning. This is happening despite dog farmers claiming they are raising special breeds of dog just for food, as a way of convincing those who think of dogs as pet that the dogs raised for their meat are different.
With public sentiment moving away from the killing of dogs for food, consumption has been down sharply anyway in recent years. In a recent poll, an estimated 70% of Koreans in fact say they do not eat dog, partly because of the changing beliefs about the animals. Surprisingly, only 40% of the population believe the practice of eating dogs for meat should be banned, though that is also on the rise.
Another measure of how opinions are changing was the June 2018 ruling by a South Korean city court in Bucheon that killing dogs just for meat is illegal -- on its own. Once impossible to imagine, this landmark decision is seen as evidence of a sea-change in how the country sees the long-standing culture behind Bok Nal days.
All this is why, finally, after centuries, anti-dog-farming legislation is currently making its way through the national parliament.
For those who know dogs not just as pets but as part of their families, this will come as more than welcome news. With a character of love and affection, and literally selfless devotion to their masteries and the families who care for them, dogs are known for always ‘being there’ for those they are close to. There are many tales of the dogs fighting to protect the people around them both from other dangerous creatures , like rats or snakes or even bigger, and by awakening their owners from sleep when a house fire might have killed them all. They love us even when we humans treat them badly.
Dogs are also far smarter than most humans realize. As is only recently begun to be understood by the masses of pet owners, dogs are capable of understanding hundreds of words and complex reasoning. With an ability to do far more than tricks, dog owners who practice speaking to their dogs from their earliest days as puppies have seen dogs do what seem amazing things to others. They close a door when an owner says something to someone else about having left the door open. They care for and protect someone in a family who is suffering from injury or illness without having to be asked. They also do such things as pull up blankets on the children in a family at night, just because they have seen humans do it, help pick up dropped items and gather them together, and in many places, both in homes and on farmland, help out with chores just like other members of the family.
Studies by the pioneering biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake show that dogs are highly telepathic and able to access important information from a distance. Sheldrake explores this reality further in his book "Dogs Who Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home".
These are the noble animals who could be saved if the anti-dog-farming legislation makes it through in South Korea. The world is watching carefully to see how the voting on it will work out and is South Korea is able to step beyond its barbaric past.