Monday, July 19, 2010

Ask a Korean! News: Bok and Dog Meat

A new addition to the roster of the Korean's favorite blogs (see the right sidebar) is 악식가의 미식일기, a Korean blog run by a food columnist. Blogger Hwang Gyo-Ik writes mostly about Korean food.

Today is bok day in Korea. Bok refers to the three days in summer on which Korea is the hottest. Traditionally, on bok days Korean people eat hot, boiling soup that is supposed to make you sweat and restore balance of your body. The favorite dishes of the bok days are samgyetang (chicken and ginseng soup) and boshintang (dog meat soup.)

The Korean's previous exposition on dog meat is here. Below is Mr. Hwang's take on boshintang, which shows how the dog meat debate is shaping up within Korea.

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I wrote a column about dog meat in 2007, and received curses and insults that I have never faced in my life. Since then, I re-live that nightmare every year on bok day. I do not particularly want to rehash that event, but I re-post the columns that I wrote at that time because cowering in the face of insults would mean defeat. My thoughts on this issue remains the same today as it was when I wrote it. The columns were carried on Weekly Dong-A.

Chewy and Supple, the Best Health Food
(Weekly Dong-A, July 18, 2007)

Ever since I was born, my house always had a dog, be it a Jindo, Spitz or Poodle. I always had a pet dog even after I was married and had my own family. Currently my family raises a Yorkshire Terrier. My family and I have devoted a lot of affection for our dogs. If one happened to die, we would all sink in sorrow for days.

But I eat dog meat. (The rest of my family does not. The children are too young for dog meat just yet, and I never suggest it to my wife since she never eats it.) I do not eat it just for the sake of health; I eat it for the flavor, like the way I eat beef or pork. When my coworkers or clients ask, "Should we go have some meat?", I instinctively associate the "meat" to include dog meat. I am sure most middle-aged men are the same way as I, particularly during summer.

For people like myself who loves dogs as well as dog meat, there is a historical document that provides comfort. (Don't we love it when something is written down somewhere?) Bonchogangmok, the leading book of ancient oriental medicine, categorizes dogs into three groups based on use: "The first is a hunting dog; the second is a guard dog/home dog; the third is a meat dog. Dog raises the yang of the body, heals the five fatigues and seven injuries, aids blood flow and warms the waist and the hips. It is good for illnesses that cause loss of appetite; it also brightens one's eyes..." These categories are still useful today. As long as we avoid misusing a home dog as a meat dog, they are very helpful toward alleviating the dilemma of being a dog-loving, dog-meat-gourmand.

Inability to distinguish dogs for a pet from dogs for food really hinders the enjoyment of dog meat. Imagine boshintang restaurant listing the items by breed, such as "Sheppard soup -- $ 9", "Yorkshire Terrier soup - $ 7", "Jindo soup - $ 10". Even a person who does not have a pet dog would have a hard time adjusting to that.

The term boshintang ("body-helping soup") itself was a strategy to subdue the imagery of pets when the word "dog" is mentioned. Reportedly, the term boshintang was coined during the Rhee Syngman administration; traditionally, the name used was either gaejang or gujang ("dog soup"). The administration forbade the use of the term gaejang or gujang because it thought that foreigners would consider the dog-eating habit to be primitive. As the name boshintang became widely known for its true meaning, other names like yeongyangtang ("nutrition soup") or sacheoltang ("four-season soup") were used as well.

The names boshintang, yeongyangtang and sacheoltang imply that dog meat is good for your health. Most Koreans who enjoy dog meat believe that dog meat would benefit their health. I believe that foreigners consider dog meat consumption as "primitive" at least partly because they are critical of Koreans' obsession over health.

But should dog meat be had only because of its supposed health benefits? To my palate, dog meat is a very delicious meat. It does not have as much umami as beef, but it outshines beef in its lean texture and subtle, unique aroma. In particular, the grease from dog meat is much lighter, which makes the flavor fresh and clear. The meat with skin has an elegant combination of chewiness and suppleness.

I do, however, have a lot of issues with the restaurants that serve this delicious meat. Many of them serve meat in the color of tree barks, limp vegetables that are too green and too dark at the same time and unappetizing broth. The pot and the gas burner are riddled with soup stains, as are the table and the cushions. The interior smells damp and the lighting is dim, giving off an unhygienic vibe. I think this atmosphere partially contributes to the trend in which women tend not to enjoy dog meat. It is said that food is 70 percent atmosphere, 30 percent flavor. There is no reason why dog meat cannot be enjoyed in a presentable format served at a clean, upscale interior.

Recently, boshin.com, a website selling dog meat online, was summarily closed after receiving unfavorable and angry Internet attention. Even though the website might have enabled people to enjoy boshintang in the clean atmosphere of one's own home instead of in an unhygienic restaurant, dog meat remains in the center of controversy.


Food Cannot be Immoral
(Weekly Dong-A, August 1, 2007)

I am going through some truly unbelievable events. In my column last week I wrote that I eat dog meat; now I am a target of all kinds of insult. I would just ignore the online comments on the column itself, blaming the crass Internet culture. But now I am receiving emails with insults. I am considering filing a police report.

I had no intention of starting a debate with dog meat abolitionists. As a food columnist who eats dog meat, I merely wrote a column about food that many Koreans eat. I do see a point in what dog meat abolitionists are arguing, since they may see it disgusting to eat an animal that is close to people. But that position cannot be the universal truth.

It is violence to fling insults and threats to dog meat-eaters, screaming that "You should not eat dog meat because I do not eat dog meat." That people who do not maintain the most basic respect to fellow humans force other people to respect dogs is incredibly wrong. I, a dog meat eater, have no intention to force-feed it to dog meat abolitionist, as much as I have no intention to force-feed pork to my Muslim friend.

As I study Korea's food culture, I feel that there is a certain attitude of cultural superiority within a certain class of our society. The people who consider themselves to be in a higher class has a tendency to eat different things, as if to show off, "You can't eat this, can you?" But lately, this distinction has slowly eroded as restaurant industry developed. Food has been democratized, such that the dishes that were only available in five-star hotel restaurants are now cheaply available at any franchise restaurant. This trend hampers their strategy to distinguish themselves through food. I believe that the dog meat controversy is a part of the new strategy -- to highlight their superiority by looking down upon what others eat.

The reason why I think the dog meat abolitionists are the same with Korean society's cultural aristocracy is because of their rationale that dog meat is immoral. Food can be neither moral nor immoral, as much as a lettuce cannot be categorized as moral or immoral. But they seek to categorize moral humans and immoral ones on the basis of whether one eats or does not eat dog meat. This is how they reconfirm to themselves that they are on a morally superior position.

I will reiterate that dog meat abolitionists have a point. There is no culture that must be preserved absolutely at all cost. Culture changes over time. Not long ago, dog meat was a "seasonal dish for healthy summer," but now many have come to regard it it as repulsive due to the pet dog culture that flourished in the last decade. Consider how long it has been in Korea since people started raising dogs inside the house -- for Koreans, the culture of dogs for meat is several thousands of years old, while the culture of pet dogs only a decade. But currently, the pet dogs have the upper hand in popular culture. The trend will almost certainly reduce the population of those who eat dog meat in the future. This change does not depend on the idea of whether or not dog meat is moral or immoral; it only depends on the idea of dog meat is edible or inedible.

The cultural difference regarding food has a potential to cause a lot of damage, because food strongly reflects the cultural identity of those who enjoy it. So please, dog meat abolitionists, stop with the insults and charges of immorality just because there is a difference in opinion. Just loving your own dog is enough to slowly phase out the dog meat eating culture.

복날의 개고기 [악식가의 미식일기]

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

51 comments:

  1. Maybe I am wrong but don't they torture the dogs before slaughtering them? If I am right then I am astonished this writer doesn't acknowledge this as cruelty towards animals. Sure eat dogs, but perhaps treat them better before they are killed for consumption.

    Isn't this what major beef producers have been tackling? I never read Fast Food Nation but saw the author give a talk and he didn't have pretty things to say.

    This writer would be wise to talk about the way animals are raised for consumption rather than the dirty restaurants he came across that should be cleaned up.

    I would try dog too if I knew the practice of raising them and slaughtering them were humane along with being served in a respectable restaurant.

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    1. I don't see anywhere where Jennifer said or insinuated that meat eaters are "stupid". Why do you feel that vibe coming from her comment? How do living animals such as humans and dogs differ in their rights to life?

      It is fine to disagree but when you start describing this disagreement as "cavalier" or "Self-righteous" you are becoming disrespectful. It's good to have these discussions civilly as we all can learn from them x

      Delete
  2. Fact checking myself...You the Korean said:

    Q: Is it true that the dogs are tortured before they are killed?
    A: Again, because Livestock Processing Act does not cover dog meat, there is no restriction about how to kill a dog for meat. At the meat market, the need to slaughter the dogs quickly usually means dogs are electrocuted, similar to cattle. However, especially in rural areas where people slaughter dogs to cook and eat on their own, the common method is to hang the dog and beat it to death, in an attempt to tenderize the meat. (This, however, may be counterproductive; while beating the meat does tenderize it, an animal that dies in a stressed state generally produces tougher and less tasty meat.) A figurative expression in Korean for a severe beating is “like beating a dog on bok day.”

    *This is exactly why I avoid dog meat. I would like to hear the Ilbo writer talk about this aspect.

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  3. The only thing I'll choose to take issue with is this statement:

    "I believe that foreigners consider dog meat consumption as 'primitive' at least partly because they are critical of Koreans' obsession over health."

    While I do get tired of being told over and over again that a particular food is especially good for my health, it in no way colors my view of the food itself. I eat what I like based on taste and nutrition. That being said, while I am a foreigner I do not pretend to speak for all foreigners, but rather only white American men in their late twenties named Erik who are living in Seoul and working at software companies. There are, after all, such a wide variety of people who fall under the 외국인 designation.

    (P.S. I don't eat dog meat but if someone else wants to, that's fine by me.)

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  4. It’s true that most foreigners I meet have a greater problem with the manner in which dogs are killed than with the species of the dinner itself. I discussed it with a Korean student this evening and he brought up the French “culinary delight” called pate de foie gras. I contributed the example of veal. We’re allowed to have opinions about how animals should be treated, of course, but we have to be careful not to be selective or to use our opinions merely to disparage other cultures, especially about things that are similar to practices common where we come from.

    I think it’s also true that most foreigners who are aghast about what they hear regarding the ways that Koreans kill Fido for dinner are also uninformed and likely apathetic about what goes on in meat-processing facilities in their own countries.

    I've eaten it a few times. It's not the most delicious meat, in my opinion. Maybe Koreans think so,too, because usually it's served boiled in soup that's been inundated with massive amounts of red pepper powder, so you have to work hard to discern the actual flavor of the meat itself.

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  5. I tried bosintang. I actually thought the meat tasted OK. The soup itself tasted rather rank to me, but my friends said it was a bad restaurant, and that I should try a different place.

    I don't think anyone should be criticizing Koreans for eating dog. Every country, including your own (whatever that may be) there are certain traditions for eating certain animals. While Americans think that eating cow and pork, I can think of several other cultures that could find fault in that.

    Some people keep pigs as pets but that doesn't mean that we don't eat pork. If you're a vegetarian, that's cool, but if you eat any kind of meat, I don't think you can criticize someone for eating another kind of meat. They're all living animals.

    Korean, I hope you don't get any more insulting comments here! Thanks for your awesome blog!

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  6. I understand that cruelty to animal or human is bad but is how one kills a human or animal bad also? For example, what is the difference between using one bullet that kills and 9 more after a person or animal is dead. Same in my book.

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  7. Dear Korean,

    nothing much to comment before i really read, but i think* i spotted a mistake here in your post.

    is it 약식가의 미식일기 rather than 악식가의 미식일기 as u mentioned?

    *or is it a different blogger?

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  8. Dear Korean,

    nothing much to comment before i really read, but i think* i spotted a mistake here in your post.

    is it 약식가의 미식일기 rather than 악식가의 미식일기 as u mentioned?

    *or is it a different blogger?

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  9. "Typical foie gras production involves force-feeding birds more food than they would eat in the wild, and much more than they would voluntarily eat domestically"
    According to wikepia. Is this cruelty to animal? We do eat this in the u.s.

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  10. d_profile,

    The blog is actually titled 악식가의 미식일기. The Korean does not know what 악식가 means, but that's what it says on the blog.

    All,

    Agreed that generally foreigners are concerned about the way that dogs are treated prior to being slaughtered. The purpose of the translation is to show how Koreans see this issue internally, correctly or not.

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  11. About foie gras: I'm French and I just love foie gras. I couldn't care less about the way it's produced, like all the French I know (but of course I don't know every Frenchman in the world). Still, my dad used to tell me that the process for producing foie gras (what we call in French "gavage") is not cruel, since geese, which are migratory birds, do eat that much in the wild to prepare for the migration. I'm not an expert and I don't know how much of that is true. After a quick search on the French wikipedia though, I do find the same explanation: "La technique du gavage tire parti d'un mécanisme naturel qui, avant la migration ou en prévision de disette alimentaire, pousse les oiseaux à accumuler le plus de graisse possible." (The technique of gavage comes from a natural mechanism...). Nothing anywhere close to the quote from the English wikipedia (but it's just a remark, not a way of launching a debate).
    Just a note on vocabulary to "thebobster": foie gras is just foie gras, it is not "paté de foie gras". Paté is a good basic stuff. But foie gras is so much more. If you call foie gras "paté", it's almost like an insult for French ;)

    (And as for dog meat, I live in Korea and I haven't tried it so far. I don't know if I will, but I agree with the article)

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  12. I don't eat veal or foie gras because of the way in which they are created (LOL.. it's a slippery slope since I do eat "factory" chicken).

    Same would go for dog. If it's tortured to death I'd not want to eat it because the productin method bothers me. But killed like cattle? What's the difference? That's just farming.

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  13. Foreigner Joy,

    I understand many people's concerns for poor treatment of animals before they are consumed. I wholeheartedly agree that such practices should stop now.

    However, I daresay this is not limited solely to the dog meat case. In fact, this is as much a problem in the West. I've met many vegans and vegetarians in the U.S. (where I live now) who have chosen their specific diet for this precise reason. Yeah, perhaps they don't beat cows and chickens and [insert other meat animals here] with sticks to death. But it's also widely known that, for example, many chickens are kept in individual cages barely the size of its own body, their beaks cut off, force-fed unnatural food products, and even injected unnatural chemicals to enhance growth. I'm not sure if this kind of torture is any more "humane" than beating a dog to death, the legality debate aside.

    I'm not justifying cruel dog-beating practices, just that if eating dogs is not your thing because of animal cruelty, perhaps you might consider living on salad altogether.

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  14. good blog, thanks for this good information :)

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  15. It's ridiculous to say that "food can neither be moral nor immoral" after which the author goes on to compare dogs to lettuce. Uh, yeah, and that's my pet cabbage over there.

    He's evading the argument by re-classifying the dog as food. I could evade an argument that cannibalism is wrong in the same way by simply saying "food is neither moral or immoral" and then eating a baby.

    The author has failed to deal with anything related to the moral issue by pretending there isn't one and that whatever he labels as "food" is automatically an ethically null question.

    I realize this is not your article, but it's pretty weak tea.

    I find the eating of dog meat and the way the animals are kept and killed to be unconscionable. Of course, I am also a vegan and I am against eating any animals. I find it particularly cruel, however, to eat animals that have proven intelligence and emotional capabilities such as dogs, cats and pigs.

    I also think it sends a disturbing message to children - you can love this and kill it and eat it too! How sick is that? It seems to set up the idea that you can simultaneously "love" someone and "destroy" them and that other beings only have significance and interests insofar as they are here for us to enjoy however we please.

    It's easy to see why this "gourmand" slips so quickly back into talking about how "delicious" dog meat is. One, he doesn't have a shred of real evidence for its being healthy or any healthier than any other kind of meat may or may not be. Two - either he never took Philosophy 101 or he knows he has no ethical ground to stand on.

    So let's revert back to "it's tasty so I want to do it and tastiness is its own justification so there."

    Well, I've never tasted humans (nor do I intend to) but I imagine it's possible they taste good too. Doesn't make it right to kill something with feelings and a brain. And sure doesn't magically change a dog into the same being as a "lettuce."

    Oh and the categories of dogs? Give me a break!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. Loved your response. From a newly vegan (vegetarian all my life) to another.

      Delete
  16. Oh and to Monica - vegans don't live on salad. Today I ate cereal, peanut butter and crackers, fruits, jajang myeon (veganized) at Loving Hut, and "chicken" nuggets. Not eating as well as usual cause I'm super-busy with intensive classes at my hagwon here in Korea. But nary a salad touched my lips today, though it actually probably should have. Need to get my veggies! But that's a stale stereotype!

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  17. A couple things consistently stand out in a vegetarian/vegan argument against dog meat:

    1. A cavalier equivocation between dogs and humans (and by extension, a ready willingness to equate dog eating with cannibalism.)

    2. Self-righteous arrogance that considers meat eaters stupid.

    Both are in full display in Jennifer's comment above.

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  18. The Swiss also eat canine meat.

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  19. Until there is some regulation on how the dogs are killed, Korea will always be viewed as primitive in regards to their food culture. This will be especially true for Western nations that 1) recognize the need for humane treatment of livestock and 2) view dogs as an entity entirely removed from food.

    And knowing the conditions that Korean food dogs go through, how could any healthy person eat the dog meat and not feel guilt? It's less culture shock than psychological disfigurement.

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  20. I was laughing so hard because of the way Hwang Gyo-Ik attempted to reconcile his love of eating dog with his love of dogs as pets. I am referring particularly to “Chewy and Supple, the Best Health Food.” It was just not entirely believable that such "loves" could possibly be reconciled. Now, as I write, I am still crying with laughter.

    Something is not quite right. Either you like to eat dog, or you like dogs as pets.

    Look! You can't have your dog and eat it too! Excuse me for another five minutes of laughter.

    Now, I am not saying that it is wrong to eat dog. But really, what American seeks a cow, chicken, pig, lamb, or goat, as a pet? We see them as objects. We see them as food.

    "The American" will not even try to understand. “Food as friend” is “ghoulish”. And it is funny that Mr. Hwang doesn't really care. I mean, Hwang Gyo-Ik is a veritable epicure of dog. He cannot deny it. I consumed his description of the experience—every “morsel.” The level of satisfaction “dog as food” was quite palpable. I could practically taste “dog” myself through his tastebuds.

    Now it is only possible that I could try dog because I have not had a dog as a pet since grade school. I also do not see dogs regularly on the streets of New York City. Actually, I see dogs rarely. My argument is that I have no bond with any dog. Hence it is possible for me to psychologically tolerate the experience. Hell—I might even enjoy it as well as Mr. Hwang. Consider that I have _no_ dogs as pets.

    Hwang Gyo-Ik, on the other hand, has dogs as pets AND lustfully savors the taste of dogs.

    That is just sick.

    Now, I think I am going to laugh again.

    Larry Leathers, Macroeconomist

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    1. I know a lot of people who own cattle and have named them and raised from when they were babies. That doesn't mean they aren't going to eat them, unfortunately.

      Our meat eating habits can only exist with a schizoid view of animals. This article is a great outline of that for me and I found it a very interesting read.

      Delete
  21. Either you like to eat dog, or you like dogs as pets.

    Why?

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  22. Regarding: Either you like to eat dog, or you like dogs as pets.

    “Why?” (Asks the Korean)

    Because somehow... You know, we "anthropomorphize" everything-- particularly our pets. So, to eat an instance of the class of objects we make friends with is tantamount to "cannibalism".

    I think I am about to laugh again. It is funny because the concept of eating one's own friends is so profoundly ghoulish.

    Now, again, I don't have a problem with eating dog if you do not have dog friends.

    Please excuse the bad analogy but, it is like when Jin Sa Woo was forced to kill Kim Hyun-Jun in 아이리스, the Korean drama. It was just not right. Now had they not known each other as close friends, an assassination would have seemed acceptable.

    By the way, 김태희 was so hot!


    Larry Leathers

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  23. OK, a few more follow-up questions:

    Because somehow... You know, we "anthropomorphize" everything-- particularly our pets. So, to eat an instance of the class of objects we make friends with is tantamount to "cannibalism".

    1. But what if we do not anthromorphize our pets? We are not condemned to anthromorphization; it's not like it is an involuntary reflex. Pets are animals; they are not humans.

    2. Why are pets "our friends"? Pets can be pets, a separate category from "friends"

    3. Why must we accept all dogs being in the same category? In fact, Hwang in his column is pretty clear that dogs may be considered different depending on their use. Why is this unacceptable?

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  24. oelaf said: Because somehow... You know, we "anthropomorphize" everything-- particularly our pets. So, to eat an instance of the class of objects we make friends with is tantamount to "cannibalism".

    The Korean said:

    1. But what if we do not anthromorphize our pets? We are not condemned to anthromorphization; it's not like it is an involuntary reflex. Pets are animals; they are not humans.


    oelaf said:

    Meaningfully speaking, let us discuss what it may mean to “anthropomorphize our pets,” if that is something that we actually do. I posit that this is the case.

    Let us consider the motivation. Well, the motivation is all about communication. We attempt to anthropomorphize to communicate with other animals on our terms. The assumption is that the animal under consideration has a native ability to understand us.

    Pets that we anthropomorphize fill the void; they are surrogates for humans that we require for companionship. Pets that we do not anthropomorphize are just objects that we hold captive for vacuous or whimsical entertainment.

    OK. Simply put, pets become more “object” than “friend” if we believe that they cannot understand us and are useful only for whimsical purpose—basically if they are not “anthropomorphizable.” It becomes a lot easier for us to trivialize the life or existence of something that we cannot control or domineer. We can easily legitimize the eating of such objects.

    So, it is true that we do not anthropomorphize all pets. For example, consider goldfish. We hold goldfish captive for the purpose of “decoration,” more or less. I believe that most people who have fish as pets would consider eating fish acceptable.

    The Korean said:

    2. Why are pets "our friends"? Pets can be pets, a separate category from "friends"


    oelaf said:

    I think the ability to “communicate meaningfully” is where we can distinguish pets from friends.

    The problem here is that most dogs can be reasoned or otherwise successfully communicated with. I argue that they have sentience because they appear to understand how their behavior is meaningful to that of the group. Consider the behavior of sheep dogs that help cowboys keep a flock together. Sentience indicates a high level of cognitive ability. On the other hand, we do not have the technology to meaningfully communicate with a rat. The reason that we keep rats in cages is because we cannot enjoin their attention on our terms. Necessarily to be a friend, human or otherwise, the behavior of the subject must be somehow predictably influenced by the communication that we initiate. Moreover, the response of the subject must occur immediately, subsequent to our express signaling.

    Rats also, I would agree, can be pets and not friends.

    I should like to answer your third question in another submission because this is running a bit long. Thanks.

    Larry Leathers, Macroeconomist

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  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  26. … continuation

    The Korean said:

    3. Why must we accept all dogs being in the same category? In fact, Hwang in his column is pretty clear that dogs may be considered different depending on their use. Why is this unacceptable?


    oelaf said:

    There is another reason why we “anthropomorphize.” It is because most people want things simple. Reality is way too complicated. So we look for the similarities with ourselves in all things that we interact with.

    We impose equivalence relations upon related objects because it is convenient and moreover economical for humans to dismiss individuality wherever possible. For efficiency in controlling reality, we construct abstract structures to model reality wherein we manipulate entire categories of objects as opposed to individual objects. Now, I agree that we should be able to discriminate between the dog varieties we use as food and the ones we use as friends. Indeed, some breeds may be better than others at “communication” or rather “interactive reasoning” with humans. But practically, beyond the nuances appreciated by professional breeders, I believe that such differences are not perceived to be meaningful by the layman.

    To cultivate an appreciation of uniqueness between dogs of different breeds as well as between dogs of the same breed complicates things too much for most people. Since most dog breeds can be communicated with, it is much easier to identify all dogs as “friends” and conclude that no dog is to be eaten.

    To recapitulate, it is unacceptable to discriminate “dogs as friends” from “dogs as food,” when the majority of breeds are perceived as those capable of being used as friends. Why? Humans like making generalities and prefer to stereotype, just as I am doing now. Most people naturally seek reduction and eschew consideration of special cases.

    This is not meant to be a proof. It is just my feeble attempt to explain why certain people may not tolerate eating dog.

    Larry Leathers, Macroeconomist

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  27. Larry,

    This is not meant to be a proof. It is just my feeble attempt to explain why certain people may not tolerate eating dog.

    The Korean understands that. Please also know that the Korean means no hostility -- he only wanted to have a further exposition of what you were thinking.

    As a side note, it would have been better if you had displayed the modesty that you are displaying now from the very beginning, instead of haughtily laughing at Hwang's position. Disagreement is fine on AAK!; being a jerk is not taken well.

    Back to the discussion...

    The Korean's point is this: even the way we interact with our pets is culturally determined. As you pointed out, anthromorphization of our pets may or may not happen regardless of how much we love our pets. All of your discussion implicitly refers to the non-Korean conception of having a pet. In fact, the very idea of pet dogs is completely foreign to Koreans. Then shouldn't Koreans be able to determine their own relationship with dogs, pet ones or otherwise?

    For example, you say: To cultivate an appreciation of uniqueness between dogs of different breeds as well as between dogs of the same breed complicates things too much for most people. But it is not too much for Koreans. Pet dogs are mostly the small, imported breeds; dogs for eating are regular mutts specifically raised for that purpose. And in fact, dogs for eating vastly outnumbers pet dogs in Korea.

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  28. oelaf said:

    To cultivate an appreciation of uniqueness between dogs of different breeds as well as between dogs of the same breed complicates things too much for most people.

    The Korean said:

    But it is not too much for Koreans. Pet dogs are mostly the small, imported breeds; dogs for eating are regular mutts specifically raised for that purpose. And in fact, dogs for eating vastly outnumbers pet dogs in Korea.


    OK.

    The Korean said:

    As a side note, it would have been better if you had displayed the modesty that you are displaying now from the very beginning, instead of haughtily laughing at Hwang's position. Disagreement is fine on AAK!; being a jerk is not taken well.


    oelaf said:

    Please understand that mine was a laugh of incredulity, like OMG I don’t believe that! I did not intend to belittle or “laugh at” Mr. Hwang at all. Please understand that I meant no disrespect.

    Larry

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  29. before even talking about the treatment of dogs that are to be consumed, watch what americans do to their cattle and chicken in the documentary, Food Inc. Then talk.

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  30. Personally, I care more about animal welfare than anyone's 'culture'.

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  31. All I can say is shame on you! I'm a vegan so I'm not into killing any animal. But, for those who must have their meat, they can go about it in a humane way. Right now, in S. Korea, there's a 2-month long festival ~ which I'm sure you are quite familiar with. Approx. 15000+ dogs are stuffed in a cage, starved...then...they will be torched, boiled, beaten, BBQ'd alive! ALIVE! Cats aren't safe from this either. Instead of killing humanely, in Korea and China, it is best to distress the animal to make its meat taste sweeter. Is one's stomach so important that you can completely ignore the sadness behind these poor animals eyes. Would you like for humans to do this to you? I'm so sick of humans thinking that just because they are the superior species, they can do whatever hell they want to helpless animals. I hope hell exists. I really do. And I hope above all, hell can be here on earth as well. For anyone who can make any animal suffer by skinning them alive; killing them in front of other dogs and cats, and using a number of cruel methods to make the meat taste better before execution, I'd say you aren't human. You are a demon roaming amongst us. Too bad that we and these defenseless beautiful animals have to share this earth with Godless monsters like yourself. I'm not going to stereotype, as I know there are Koreans, Chinese, and other Asian activists who are battling this disgusting ritual ~ trying hard to put an end to this disgusting dog and cat meat trade. Enjoy your next Shitzu!

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    1. Korea had a real chance to revolutionize the way meat dogs were treated, such that they were raised and slaughtered in a humane manner. It was Korea's animal rights groups that stopped the process.

      Delete
    2. So you're saying...that at some point S.Korea was on a path to kill dogs and cats humanely, but the animal activists stopped that. Can you give more detail? I love all animals, and I wish for a vegan world, but I would rather have the animal to be killed humanely. Look at the sites for Bokdays festival. Dogs are starved with tapes wrapped around their muzzles. Everyone knows dogs don't have sweat glands, and they cool off with their mouths. Some family fun...parents, children, extended families laughing at the table enjoying their dog or cat meat dish while completely visible in the background, dogs and cats are boiled, torched, skinned, electrocuted ALIVE! Instead of someone saying enough of this monstrosity, the people ~ including kids find it humorous to see a dog's cry and resistance towards its sad final time on this savage earth. How could animal activists oppose humane killing. Both the Chinese and Koreans believe distressing the dog and torturing it before execution makes the blood pumping and the meat tastier. Meanwhile, the remaining animals in the cage get their blood pumping of witnessing their pack mates getting murdered by a Godless monster who will be serving them as a dish. And another thing that astonishes me and makes me so angry is that pet owners surrender their own dogs/cats to these monsters. Some dogs have their collar on! Meanwhile mothers and children roam around this sick market and children ask for their own cat to boil! That's sick and Godless! At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if they start serving humans on the menu.

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    3. So you're saying...that at some point S.Korea was on a path to kill dogs and cats humanely, but the animal activists stopped that.

      Except for the idea that Koreans eat cat (they almost never do,) that is exactly what I am saying.

      Can you give more detail?

      http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2012/02/dog-meat-and-cultural-conquistadors.html

      Look at the sites for Bokdays festival.

      It really should not surprise you that these sites lie, lie and lie some more. I have been eating dog meat all my life. It is NEVER boiled alive, and the "tortured dog" garbage is an old tale that no one really believes in.

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    4. how is it a lie there are videos by under cover activists in korea on bokdays everywhere!!!!

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    5. And those activists would never lie, right?

      Delete
  32. There are photos and videos of dogs and cats in a hot boiling water. It's all over the place. It's not fake!

    If you don't mind my asking, what country do you live? Because here in the the US, we don't look favorably on eating domestic pets. They are our friend, children...family. You might be able to hunt wolves or coyotes.

    Anyway, I thank you for granting me the time and not deleting my post. But I don't agree with you, and I'm not a hypocrite! I don't want any animal to suffer. Whales, dolphins; sheeps, cows, chicken...Wildlife. I know we can live without meat, and survive perfectly with fruits, grains and veggies. I don't believe that just because we are a superior race, we should be brutal towards defenseless animals. They need to have their fair share of life on this planet. I weep for the future.

    Thanks.
    Roya

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    1. (1) How do you know they are not fake? Again, I have been eating dog meat all my life. I have firsthand experience in these things, and you don't.
      (2) I live in Washington D.C. It says so in my profile, which is on the right sidebar of this page.
      (3) If you are not a hypocrite, you are siding with hypocrites. Korea could have ended the brutality against meat dog once and for all, if it was not for animal rights groups in Korea.

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    2. You never answered if you eat dog meat here in the U.S.? You seem to like it a lot, as you mention it often. I can't imagine dog meat being available in supermarkets here. We don't eat dogs and cats. So do you only get a chance to consume this animal when you're in Korea or do you go hunting for wolves and coyotes?

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    3. I never answered because you never asked. The answer is no. I only eat dog meat when I travel to Korea.

      Delete
  33. Do you find any irony in your sentence:

    "It is violence to fling insults and threats to dog meat-eaters"

    Words are not violence but meat, by nature, IS violence be it meat stolen from cows, pigs, chicken, pheasant, fish, eels, clams, dogs or cats. Taking life of a sentient being is VIOLENCE therefore you, and all who eat meat, consume violence.

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    Replies
    1. Because violence against animals and violence against humans are totally the same, right?

      Delete
  34. on Bok Days people, and children, are encouraged to torture animals... we're not just talking about the cruelties of the meat industry. Surely you've seen this, or maybe you chose not to see it? I know South Koreans who have.... what part of South Korea did you grow up in, the palace?

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    1. Seoul. Question is--what part of Korea did you grow up? Have you even been to a dog farm? A dog meat restaurant?

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  35. it is not the killing nor eating of dogs (and cats) that most decent people have an issue with. it is the NEEDLESS BRUTAL TORTURE of caring, intelligent beloved animals. SKINNING ALIVE, BLOW TORCHING, ELECTROCUTING, BEATING TO DEATH, BOILING ALIVE. there is absolutely no justification for acts of such disgust.

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  36. I'm curious...if food can never be moral or immoral, that must mean it's permissible to eat humans as well! Humans certainly are edible, and while I don't know any cannibals, I can only imagine that they must enjoy the flavor. Perhaps they even separate humans into different categories, like you differentiate pets vs. food dogs. They just eat food people, so it's ok! A real delicacy for them is to eat babies, or toddlers...particularly after boiling or skinning them alive, or otherwise torturing them so their adrenaline makes their people meat nice and tasty! They probably even have cookbooks handed down from their cannibal ancestors...another reason why its OK to eat food people. I hear tortured human food babies are great for your complexion. Other cultures don't understand cannibals are really just concerned for their health -- who doesnt want a great complexion?

    If there are no cannibals in Korea, that must just mean they dont care about their health, or understand the ancient cannibal traditions. They just don't get that food is never moral or immoral. Morons.

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  37. Chinese and Koreans or any other tribe who eat dogs, should suffer torture in an endless pain until they die! Primitive and disgusting people!!

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  38. The world is full of animal cruelty & torture. If South Korea wants to be considered a civilised country it must abandon what is a bad tradition. The original tradition was borne out of necessity to simply eat - those conditions no longer exist. I will not apologise for describing the people who run these enterprises as the vilest scum of this planet who should try a taste of their own medicine. You who eat the meat simply allow this to continue and are complicit. You are a disgrace to humanity.

    ReplyDelete

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