Dogs in Korea

Last weekend Korea celebrated Children’s Day. Very appropriately for the occasion we set off to Seoul Grand Park. We were riding a bus as usual, admiring the highland views, when my eye caught a pickup truck with an interesting cargo. There were about a dozen metal thin-wire cages filled with…. dogs. I did not noticed how many dogs were there, because my eyes instinctively turned to the other side while I was trying to compute and understand the situation: dogs in cages seemed reasonable, but dogs in overcrowded cages, all the same breed, riding like cattle on an expressway with all that noise and wind – that did not seem right.

I am afraid to admit, but I think what we saw were the dogs destined for slaughter to become food. I have never seen dog meat for sale (but then I do not read Korean)…

I tried to argue in my head to justify eating animals. No, I am not going to become a vegetarian any time soon. Still it gave me a strong stomachache to see dogs destined to be a future meal. Why is it NOT so weird to see cows or pigs in trucks? My first justification was: “Dogs are very intelligent and affectionate.” But pigs are among the smartest animals. And cows are very affectionate.

Finally, in my English class I asked kids: “Who has ever eaten dogs?” Everyone said yes. When I asked: “Have you ever tried horse meat?” (In some Italian provinces this is a very special treat). I saw a look of dismay on students’ faces, just as much as I gave out seeing those dogs.

And that’s it for the cultural note.


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