This Bok-Nal, Korean Dog-Meat Industry Comes Under Fire

Note: Bok-nal is the Korean term for the hottest day of summer according to the lunar calendar. In Korea, people fight fire with fire by eating hot soups on this day. The two traditional soups are Boshintang, which is made using dog meat, and Samgyetang, which uses chicken.

Article from Herald: [July 13, 2015]

On Bok-nal, Dog Meat Over Chicken

Ms. Seo (Age 28), who loves puppies to death, hates bok-nal [the hottest day of the summer according to the lunar calendar when dog meat soup is traditionally consumed]. Seo, who works in the Mok-dong neighborhood of Seoul, remembers clearly last year’s bok-nal when she was invited out to eat dog meat by her deputy department leader. Ms. Seo struggled to conceal her discomfort while making up an excuse about her health and skipped lunch. “It’s not that I don’t understand why people eat dog, I just thought it was an old custom that had slowly faded away.” Seo’s heart aches when she thinks of the dogs sacrificed each bok-nal.

The controversy surrounding boshintang [dog meat soup] is an age-old subject in Korean society. First of all, dog meat holds an ambiguous legal standing. It has been banned all together in anticipation of backlash before major international events like the 1988 Olympics, and since then has gone back and forth between being treated as livestock and being monitored under the Sanitary Processing of Livestock Products Act.

Since dog meat isn’t classified as livestock according to the Sanitary Processing of Livestock Products Act, it is exempt from government regulation of its distribution and packaging.

Concerns that dog meat is slaughtered in an unsanitary environment have been brought up because of the regulation blind spot it falls in. In response, those who support continued consumption are advocating for inclusion of dog meat in livestock regulation litigation.

According to the National Association of Dog Butchers, large numbers of people are still eating dog meat today, with approximately 5 million animals bred and 2 million eaten every year.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety still assert that, “Considering the gravity of an official decision on the consumption of dog meat, there is a need for more long-term studies.”

In a phone call with our own reporters, a representative from a related government office avoided the issue, saying, “I must be careful about what I say. This is not an issue to be decided at our level.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs has consulted with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Environment multiple times since 2003 under the supervision of the Prime Minister about the problem of regulating dog breeding and butchery under the Sanitary Processing of Livestock Products Act, but to no avail.

Those opposed to dog meat consumption take issue with the unethical distribution process.

Many animal protection organizations have drafted animal protection laws to ban the custom all together.

In anticipation of this year’s bok-nal, campaigns opposing dog meat sprung up around the city. The Anti-Dogmeat Friends held an ‘anti bok-nal animal slaughter’ rally in North Insa-dong Square, located in the Jongno District of Seoul, where they emphasized that, “we must abolish the practice of killing vast numbers of animals for bok-nal.” ADF Chairman Yoon Keu-reen cautioned that, “2 million dogs are killed each year for consumption, and 80% of those are slaughtered during the hottest period of the summer. We must end the practice of eating bosintang on bok-nal for the sake of our development as a society, if nothing else.” ADF members also collected signatures supporting a bill that would ban the consumption of animals classified as pets and the celebration of bok-nal. They plan to send the bill to the National Legislature’s next meeting on animal welfare for consideration after collecting more signatures.

Professionals believe the dog meat controversy won’t see a resolution in the near future.

Lee Taek-gwang, culture critic and professor of British and American culture at Kyung Hee University, predicted that, “Given the government’s habit of following international standards, it is subjugated by the opinion of the international community.” He added that classifying dogs as livestock in the Sanitary Processing of Livestock Products Act will be difficult.

Professor Lee also commented that, “in the case of China, the government received a lot of flak from the international community over its dog meat festival. This makes the complete legalization of dog butchery a big risk, but announcing a ban on consumption also appears infeasible.”

Comments from Naver:


I don’t understand people who raise a dog and therefore need to stop other people from eating dog meat. You guys wouldn’t stop eating chicken or pork if someone confronted you because of their pet chicken or pig.


Quit making a big deal of it! If you’re so picky just live off vegetables. What’s up with this self-centered thinking where we can eat everything except the animals you personally like?


So dogs are cute but baby chicks aren’t? I’ve seen chicks cuter than any dog. I’ve raised three chicks and not a single dog! Although they all died…


Let me sort this whole mess out. It doesn’t matter as long as we don’t slaughter your own pet. All we have to do is not eat the dog wagging it’s tail in front of you… Mind your own business.


When I was young, I had a cat who was always by my side and I loved him. I also don’t eat dog meat, but let’s not refer to an undeniable culinary tradition as barbaric or hateful. Once when I was working on a ranch I raised cattle and deer, and you have no idea how bright and innocent their eyes looked and how well they got along with humans. Let’s cut this nonsense about dog meat being unacceptable while pork, beef, and venison are still consumed. These foreign bastards who sprinkle chocolate on ants and eat the heads of monkeys shouldn’t be running their mouths. We need to respect food culture and redirect our attention to the cruelty and sanitation of the slaughter process.


I have a pet lettuce. Don’t eat lettuce you barbarians.


I’m not here to criticize what anyone eats, but let’s at least show a little respect for animals when we slaughter them instead of beating them to death with a club like savages.


Pet dogs? If you love it while it’s cute but throw it away as soon as it gets hurt or grows old, is that a pet? Do you know how pitiful the state of abandoned dogs is in this country? Most end up euthanized.


You can eat whatever you want, but the problem is determining whether the dog was raised in a safe and sanitary environment. It’s a bad idea to eat meat when you don’t know where it came from.


I don’t care what you eat, you guys who abandon your pet dogs when they age or get sick are even worse.


Have you never watched a cow cry as it’s brought to the slaughterhouse? You guys who go crazy for a marbled steak must get really worked up over dog meat. If you think the dog meat distribution process is unsanitary then you should fix it, not force everyone to stop eating it. That just shows a lack of common sense.


The people who hate eating dog meat so much better at least also abstain from pork as well. A pig is as much of a pet as a dog, there are even specific breeds that are meant to be raised as pets. Stop eating pork, pigs are just as much of a friend to humans as dogs.


I bet the people who are up in arms over dog meat are about to stuff themselves with chicken. Since a chicken’s life isn’t really a life. Only dogs are important.


I don’t really find dog meat to taste very good but what’s up with these morons who feel the need to tell other people what they should eat? Do these idiots not eat pork, beef, or chicken themselves? You shouldn’t eat dog but any other animal’s life is worthless? You’re a vegetarian? My little pet rice plant cries every time I eat rice LOL anyways in conclusion, just because you don’t eat something don’t be nosy and tell other people what to do.


I raise a pet pig. He’s a member of our family. Stop the consumption of pig meat. How can you eat my companion? You savages.

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