Pet Dogs Abandoned and Sold by Owners for Korean Meat Market

Dogs in cages at Moran market

Warning: This article contains images of animals that may shock some readers.

At the height of summer, known in Korean as the Boknal, it has been reported that those who can no longer take care of their pet dogs take them to the Moran market outside Seoul in an attempt to sell them for meat, only to abandon them when merchants refuse to purchase a former pet [Moran is known for selling animals as both pets and meat].

This article, reposted on Daum, is based on an interview with an angry dog-meat merchant, who criticizes these pet owners as having double-standards when it comes to the issue of eating dog. South Korean netizens were completely outraged to hear that pet dogs are being abandoned in this way, with many advocating a complete ban on eating dog meat in South Korea.

Furthermore, as the netizen comments show, eating dog in Korea is far from being the norm. In fact, the consumption of dog meat in South Korea is extremely controversial, with many Koreans finding scenes like the one below as harrowing as those seeing them from the West. Animal lovers may want to look away now.

A picture showing dog carcasses being sold for meat at a Korean market

Whole dogs for sale at Moran market reposted on this blog in 2011

From Daum:

Pet Dogs Abound at Moran Market at the Height of Summer

Do you know how pitiful those dogs are? They point the finger at us for selling dog meat, but how could they dump what would have been something like a member of their family? They deliberately drop their dogs off here. But we are not some stray dog disposal team….

Days before the chobok, the dog days of summer, the Moran market in Seongnam is busy. One third of the dog meat sold in the country passes through here, and Lee Kang-choon (58) is often very disturbed by a number of calls he receives as the chobok nears. Most of the calls ask whether pet dogs can be taken care of at the market, because the owners can no longer look after them. Nowadays Lee simply hangs up on such enquiries in disgust, wondering why people see the Moran market as a ‘dog dumping ground.’

Last year, Lee was embroiled in a huge controversy with animal rights groups over the ‘dogmeat festival’, but he has had enough with the double standard that he witnessed in the people who criticized him for dog meat handling and the people who bring their pet dogs to dispose of them once the dog is no longer wanted.

Dogs confined to their cages at Moran market

According to Mr. Lee, the number of stray dogs found around the Moran market is about 15-16 per month. The dog owners often quietly propose that the meat merchants take the dog and when the merchants refuse, they simply abandon their pet dog somewhere nearby. Those dogs often stay in groups of 5-6 and some of them ‘suddenly disappear.’

Mr. Lee reveals that ‘the pet dogs that are no longer wanted or fall sick cost about 300,000 Won ($300 USD) to put down, so they try to save on the cost by bringing them here.’ Sometimes even pet shops or vetenerians also approach them for dogs under treatment. The merchants cannot take on any dog that has been neutered for hygienic reasons.

In fact this reporter found a small dog alone near a garbage dump. The dog appeared very guarded against any human and kept its distance.

A dog abandoned at the meat market by its owners.

Lee pointed to a several shacks on the wasteland, saying ‘over there they eat the stray dogs all the time.’ He often hears from witnesses who have seen homeless people directly take a live animal to eat.

Lee vented his anger: ‘Seeing homeless people eating those stray dogs, the problem is that it is not only unhygienic but I wonder whether animal rights groups have any idea that this is going on, and if so I’m curious what they plan to do about it.’

Every year, a number of animal rights group activists have protests around the Boknal. Even the confrontation between the merchants and the activists has become something of a typical scene.

Mr. Lee concluded by asking restraint on blanket criticism for difference of opinion. He wishes to ‘remind the people of the cruelty of procedures such as removing a dog’s vocal chords or snipping off their ears to prevent odours’ to keep them indoor.


UPDATE: These comments have been updated to include more of the most ‘liked’ comments following an increase in netizen interest.

Comments from Daum:

모피추방님:

Never mind whether eating or not eating dog meat is good or bad, what really pisses me off are humans who cherish and raise a dog, only to ruthlessly sell them to a dog-meat merchance when the dog later gets ill or injured, or when they’re sick of it. When I see this kind of thing, it seems that people like this are people who have not the slightest good conscience or mercy in their hearts.

Federico Laurito님:

Other commenters have correctly pinpointed things in what they’ve said. From the perspective of someone who has a pet dog, I also get very angry when I see people who think things like if a dog barks loudly, cut it’s vocal chords, or if they have a baby or move house how can they dispose of the dog and so on. When you lovingly care for a dog, are your own circumstances so pitiful..if you’re not in a secure position in the first place, you shouldn’t get a dog, should you..What on earth has the dog done to you? To put it in human terms, it’s being abandoned by your mother and father..Really..if personal circumstances don’t allow it, don’t get a dog. Don’t raise it and then abandon it somewhere..what goes around comes around.

데스피사로님:

On the contrary, there are a lot of people who don’t even like the fact that you can’t fold up a baby and put it away……..I also had a dog for fifteen years, but it died a while ago ㅠㅜ We buried it in the back garden, but they say that’s illegal ;;;;; You know that you look after a normal dog for fifteen years. If you don’t have confidence to deal with giving them affection…………or for your heart to ache as much as the affection you recieve, then just don’t get a dog. Simple as that.

레미님:

I’m not saying ‘why do we eat dog’ but people who sell a dog they had kept as a pet to a market — they can just die. Puts me off my food. Humans are scumbags.

마른하늘에정권안무너지나님:

What’s the reason that dogs are worse than cows, pigs, hens, and ducks? You absolutely shouldn’t [eat] dog, but why is it alright to devour cows, pigs, hens and ducks? Pet animals? That’s what you guys who keep pets think: ‘I have a pet cow. Those who have looked into a cow’s bright eyes could certainly never consume beef. People who eat beef are barbarians’ [the comment referred to is also included below]

동차니님:

Bastards who throw away their dogs are the worst kind of human scum.

마루님:

Seems to me that sympathising with this is a bit two-faced

디렉터:

Let’s reduce meat consumption… Do we really need to meat that bad?

상큼한 레몬트리:

I cannot believe there is still such a market *gasp*……. Whatever happened to all the people who speak of ‘man’s best friend’??? Are we so starved that we eat puppies???????

yyoo-n00:

Are there any other animals that is so close to us?? Sometimes they even feel like human-beings.. We are not starving anymore..why must we eat man’s best friend… Cows, pigs and chickens are slaughtered in a suitable manner..dogs are clubbed to death.. I hope we can put a stop to this cruelty..

화이트:

So depressing,, They are such a loyal companion,, let us be more responsible,,

백조와호떡:

I went to Moran because it was Boknal…. I almost threw up ;;;; Seeing those dogs locked in cages being electrocuted. I walked around seeing so many of them…. I wanted to release and rescue them all. I had snacks with me but I could not even touch them, so I just threw it away;;;;

zz_0712:

A dog is a precious life like anything else. Instead of just saying it, please pay attention to them however small they are, and they will cherish it as love.

dkfkqlRk:

Dogs are loyal and cute so we shouldn’t eat them, but cows and pigs are alright? This is one human-centered opinion.

정두원님:

Don’t eat beef…. I grew up with a cow as a child. Have you ever looked into their eyes? If you remember those big sad eyes you can never touch beef. I don’t eat beef. I feel as though people who eat beef are savages.

해와달:

Dog or human-being, if you are not sure about looking after it, do not buy it and do not have it.

멋진 남자:

This is when I am most embarrassed about being a Korean…..seeing another human being eating a dog. How can you eat a dog???

성균관과스캔들:

Dogs are our only friends? Cows and pigs are our friends too — Why must we not eat dogs only? I don’t hear a single logical argument against eating dog.

레미:

I don’t care what people eat, but ones who dump one’s own companion really deserve to die. They are really just scum.

미워도다시한번:

I used to have such an appetite for dog meat but once I discovered that they slaughter pet dogs, I cannot eat that stuff anymore. The taste is just not the same anymore ㅠㅠ

카오산:

How can they dump their pet to a dog-meat restaurant? I don’t like dogs but I would never do such a thing!

라라링:

I went to the Moran marketplace and those poor eyes begging for rescue…. I nearly cried there….. I wish we would stop eating dog.

Dogs sold at Moran Market

Protesters lock themselves in cages at Moran Market

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  • Yu Bumsuk

    Interesting that the comments are about what you’d expect on any expat forum.

    • Paul

      My thoughts exactly.

      It’s nice to know that “fixed” dogs simply cannot be sold for meat for health reasons. Whether you’re for or against raising dogs for dogmeat, such an extreme change in the circumstance for a given dog surely must amount to torture.

      • 미대협

        I’ve been to the Moran Market, and the thing that baffled me the most was the fact that on one “aisle” of the market, the right side was full of giant cages of meat dogs, and on the left were tiny cages of puppies for sale to raise. Had they been separated in the market, it wouldn’t have affected me so much, I think. But standing there with the paradox in front of me, i had a hard time trying to rationalize it to myself. I’ve had dog meat, and if dogs are raised to be meat, I’m not against it. But raising a dog as a pet and them deciding you don’t want it and trying to give it away to be eaten?! That’s ridiculous and honestly sounds more like something I’d read on Chinese forums… I thought Koreans were more responsible than that?

        • Brett Sanbon

          Maybe Chucky would argue that these pet owners are all really Joseonjok…. providing yet another reason to keep them out of Korea!!!

          • Chucky3176

            Actually I would not argue that reason, since most Joseonjoks are not big pet owners. I would say though is that Joseonjoks do seem to be big consumers of dog meat, helping to support and there by ensure the dog markets to continue strongly. If South Korea’s older dog meat consumers die off, it’s being replaced by the big and rapidly growing Joseonjok and Han Chinese population.

    • Jang

      Yu Bumsuk,
      It’s “interesting” that you were the first to comment and somehow found expats comments “interesting?” What exactly did you find interesting about expat comments who hadn’t made any comments yet? I’m guessing you’re a proud expat dog meat eater? Chucky3176 should know there are more like you(?) who aren’t Joseonjoks. Those expats who go to S. Korea and eat dog meat are a true embarrassment especially when they pretend to be all high and mighty wanna-be law abiding Koreans while in a sense promote a non-regulated industry that believes the more you beat the dog to death, the better the meat tastes. Does dragging dogs to death by car/truck make the dog taste better and increase the price?

      • http://www.koreabang.com James

        He/she is referring to the fact that the translated comments by Korean netizens seem more nuanced than expected, and perhaps therefore wouldn’t have looked out of place on a forum for expats in Korea. This, however, is not an expat forum. That’s not what Yu Bumsuk was suggesting, and I’m sure you really realise that, but it seems like you might be a bit confused about what’s going on here.

        • chucky3176

          Why would anyone be surprised by the Korean netizen comments? I see nothing out of the ordinary in reference to the Korean netizen comments. What kinds of comments did you guys exactly expect?

          • http://www.koreabang.com James

            Who does “you guys” refer to in this context Chucky?

          • Chucky3176

            You, James, and Yubumsuk.

  • lavista4u

    Its sad, I’m from India and for us, even cow is sacred but the west jumps at the sight of beef and frowns when dogs are eaten in the east. Both are hypocrites…

    Indians have been vegetarians for more than 5000 years and even though we are poor, we feed 1.2 billion of us with just vegetables and rice….So, its an excuse that, when people are poor they eat meat….Korea is just 40 million, I’m sure, they don’t need Dog meat at this moment in time to feed themselves, Korea is a rich country…

    Its such a shame really…I will be lenient here, as its too hard to change human psychotic behavior….go and eat chicken, beef, fish, octopus…If you can’t live without Animal meat…BUT please draw some line somewhere…where its gonna end?

    • Random Person

      Actually, there’s a huge gap between the poor and wealthy in Korea just as I’m sure it is in India. I didn’t even know Korea had poor people because I only saw KPop related stuff but truth is, there are a lot of poor, starving people in Korea.

      • Chucky3176

        There are lot of poor people in Korea, just like anywhere else. But starving? No. Like I said, all this is generational. As the older generation in their 50+ pass away, the dog eating practice goes with them. I’ve not seen the dog meat consumption pattern lately, but I’ll bet that it has been a steady decline down hill as people born in pre and post Korean War era gradually passes away.

    • Patrick

      You don’t eat chicken curry in India. Don’t exclude yourself from the hypocrisy. Cows only became sacred in India because in times of drought they provided other forms of nourishment like milk and cheese, it had nothing to do with life is sacred and we shouldn’t eat meat.

    • Bruce Tutty

      I don’t see why I’m a hypocrite for eating meat, i don’t have a problem with it.

      But dogs are used traditionally in most of the world to guard cows and pigs, and became part of the family, in a way that pigs and cows aren’t. But i understand if you do not understand this.

      But is means that ‘pets’ are held in quite different regard from ‘meat’ animals, whether non-meat eating understand that or not.

      But if you want to be upset about this, then why not be concerned for the vultures that are being poisoned by the baits put out for stray dogs in India. Once this is done then you can take the moral high-ground.

      The moral requirement for omnivores is to care for the animals, including how t is put to death. So where i come from in New Zealand, all animals are stunned electrically before they are killed. I don’t think this is the case in India?

      If you want to be superior about your country, then i suggest to use all of it to quote from, not just the practices that make you look good, when there are actually so many primitive and cruel customs in your present land.

      I do understand that many Indians are vegetarian, but then i don’t think you could afford to feed all people on meat, so you have to be.

      In this article, people don’t eat meat because they are poor, but because that’s all they can get. Generally poor farmers are vegetarians due to not being able to raise meat animals.

    • Thor

      Dogs and cats are meat eaters and hunters themselves and thus they shouldn’t be eaten or slaughtered. That’s how I see things. That’s pretty simple.

  • 바나나

    i only eat zerglings

  • Chucky3176

    It’s generational. It’s the old and the poor who make the Moran market exist. It’s one of the old traditional outdoor markets that are dying out with the generations of the past. The Moran market is the biggest and one of the oldest outdoor markets in Korea traditional outdoor markets which have struggled. I think Moran market is the only outdoor market that sells live livestocks and dogs for food. I hear that it hasn’t changed that much over the few decades. Frankly, I would never touch the filth since the dog meat industry is not regulated – and much of it is unhygenic due to no government inspections of any kind. Like I said, it’s the old, poor, and the ignorant which drives that market.

  • Random Person

    I find most “animal lovers” hypocritical. You say you love all animals but you feed your precious dog or cat the chopped up remains of a poor cow who suffered its entire life. I’m not against eating meat – I don’t care if someone is eating dog meat or pig or whichever. But it seems more “animal lovers” don’t care about slaughtering of animals so long as dogs are safe. To call someone else barbaric for eating dog while you munch on veal (dead baby cow) and lamb chops and pate (liver from a goose that was force fed) is beyond hypocritical. And then there are other people who care more about animals than people, saying a baby “is going to grow up a brat anyways” and “it’s better if it was never born so our resources could stop being drained”. The hypocrisy level among “animal lovers” is TOO DAMN HIGH.

    • Bruce Tutty

      That’s right, so maybe you need to understand the role of these animals, versus the ones we eat. You don’t appear to understand either.

      In the same way that cats eats mice, but we don’t scald them for it, because it’s natural.

      If you have a moral problem with eating meat then don’t eat it, but you are going to have to do better than this overly emotional argument.

  • asswiper

    Again, humans need to eat meat from animals that eat veg/insects/fish
    we should not eat animals that eat meat.
    dogs eat meat so we shouldnt eat dogs.

    • vetomon

      Well, what about pigs, sharks, fish and birds?

      They eat meat and they taste good.

      You eat them too, no?

      • Thor

        Pigs SOMETIMES eat meat but they aren’t technically meat eaters because they don’t hunt animals themselves.

  • mouse

    Animals are meant to be consumed.
    Dog meat is delicious. I think finding a more humane way for them to be slaughtered would be the best solution.

    It’s a personal choice to eat meat or not, but it’s sickening that they think people who eat meat are barbarians. Grow up. Not everyone feels bad eating an animal. Death is a part of life.

    • Leipe Loetje

      True dat.

      I like dogs, I even have a dog back home, but still I want to try to eat some dog meat in Korea.

      It’s not that easy to find though.

      • http://www.facebook.com/janekey1947 Jane Key

        you are a moron.

    • Hackiechan

      ‘Animals are meant to be consumed’ ??? Based on what?

      You can’t slaughter something humanely. ‘Humane slaughter’ is a paradox.

      • Synchromystic

        Based on thousands of years of human evolutionary history, that’s what. “Humane slaughter” doesn’t have to be a paradox–look at the Native Americans and their spiritual kinship with the buffalo. They hunted and used every part of the animal, but it was always done out of respect for that animal’s role in nature. What is inhumane is our current way of commercial slaughtering. Animals are kept in filthy conditions, given no space to move around, fed on grains and certain meats that should not be a part of their diets, and injected with hormones and other chemicals. BUT, the fact remains that people who do not live on some form of animal protein suffer health problems.

        • mouse

          This exactly. Keep them in good conditions and kill them painlessly.

        • http://www.facebook.com/janekey1947 Jane Key

          and how many buffalo are there now?

  • http://koreabang.com Jade

    Not from moderator: If you want to include a URL with your display name, please choose your own website, not ours.

    Unbelievable, you have abandonned dogs sent to a meat market!!! It is so sad and heart renching to throw away those pets. I love dogs but I can never eat a dog. There is enough food to eat without killing any of those dogs.

  • 참을수없는가벼움

    A bunch of senseless people are tarnishing South Korea’s national image and provide grounds of criticisim from abroad. The absolutey infuriating inhumane act of abandoning pet animals should be stipulated as subject to criminal charges, with offenders sent to a faraway uninhabitated island

  • asswiper

    I had two pet cats in China and im pretty sure someone stole them to eat them.
    I miss them a lot and i hate to think that they died in pain to be eaten..

    • Nargazoid

      Poor Chinese..cat meat really tastes bad

  • lonetrey

    Actually, reading through the comments, I find myself discovering my thoughts to mostly be centered on the fact that pet OWNERS are pretty much selling off animals who are dependent upon their owners, animals who trust their owners to care for them. And that’s what really pisses me off about this article.

    I don’t have a problem (well, I do get iffy about the subject, but I don’t condem dog-eaters) with the dog meat market… I have a problem with the methods which the resources are obtained.

  • Cleo

    The Japanese made a business out of eating our babies and aborted living fetuses so where is the furor about that?

  • Ellen

    I pray for all of the poor dogs and cats. Slowly beating ANYTHING to death be it a cow, cat, dog or elephant is so sadistic I can’t even imagine a single human being able to participate in it. Then to sell your pet into this torture!? Does anybody have any empathy. My God.

  • Ellen

    No. I am a vegetarian. However, there are humane slaughtering laws in the USA (still not humane enough in my opinion) because most of our citizens find animals being abused to be abhorrent and unacceptable. Companion animals such as dogs being beaten to death as slow as possible for any reason is seen as sick and twisted here. One would be jailed and/or fined and cast off from society for perpetrating something so heinous and cruel. It makes me think ill of Korea when I know I shouldn’t paint all of its citizens with such a broad brush, but I’m just being honest. Foie Gras in France makes me feel the same way. I can sympathize with an Indians having disdain for cow-eating peoples as well. Jews don’t eat pork yet their Kosher method of slaughter is cruel and barbaric. I am glad human beings are starting to evolve to have less tolerance for animals suffering. I don’t advocate the world become vegan but we should do better for our animals that give us so much.

    • Danny

      If you think that the US ‘humane’ slaughtering laws are being enforced, or are even ‘humane’ at all, you need to educate yourself and watch a hidden-camera documentary called “Earthlings”.

      • Ellen

        Trust me, I am well aware of the abysmal record of enforcing humane animal laws, but we do a better job in the US relative to other countries like Korea. I know it isn’t saying much.

  • Danny

    I believe as humans, ALL animals can be consumed. Dogs and cats are animals too.

    But i only condone it if they are humanely slaughtered.

    This isn’t the case in MOST parts of the world – developed or not. What you see behind closed doors in slaughterhouses is usually horrific and sadistic. Not meaning to promote, but watch a hidden camera documentary called “Earthlings” to see what happens in the US, for our meat, pets, entertainment, medical / fashion industry.

  • Pingback: South Korea’s Dog Meat Trade: An Asian Landscape Of Suffering For Millions Of Dogs & Cats

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  • bultak23

    한국 음식의 강아지국밥 맛있어?
    puppy soup with rice is a popular dish in korea.

  • AJH

    It’s a double standard when people who eat meat complain about the consumption of certain types of meat I.E. Dogs, a violent animal that cannot be trusted by any stretch of the imagination, especially around small children. This artical appears to give ignorant people in western countries another reason to complain, when they themselves have worse animal rights in their own countries, exploiting animals with excessive factory farming and the use of hormones, and chemicals that cause abnormal growth rates. My point it that nobody anywhere in the world has a right to complain about the treatment of animals the very moment they consume any form of meat.

    • MellowCat

      Dogs are rarely “violent” animals unless human beings force them to defend themselves against abusive, barbaric sociopaths. The kinder they are treated, the kinder their nature. You are clearly a victim of woeful ignorance or surround yourself with dog-abusers and their fearful dogs if you think dogs are violent. As to your contention that nobody has a right to question other countries’ methods, sure we have a right. I don’t eat meat and can have an opinion about the conditions of any animal anywhere in the world if I choose. Asian countries’ deliberately torturing animals slowly is unacceptably appalling even to most meat-eaters. Eating domestic animals, many stolen pets, after taping their mouths shut, loading them in tiny cages for long trips to be thrown from many feet onto the ground to have limbs broken, then hanged and beaten slowly or to be boiled or torched alive while wagging their trusting tails at you is something I am going to judge. A “person” able to do that has mental problems.

      http://www.all-creatures.org/anex/raccdog.html

  • MellowCat
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