JAPAN, KOREA, AND DOG/CAT-EATING

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2000:

OKINAWA; SEOUL––Joining Korean activists in seeking global support for a campaign against dog-and-cat-eating, Okinawan animal rescuer Risa Nakamura in February 2000 asked leaders who are scheduled to attend the G-8 summit in Okinawa this summer to speak out in particular against the alleged Okinawan practice of drowning stolen cats and then boiling them into stew.

None of the world leaders responded on the record, but Sadayuki Hayaski, Japanese ambassador to Britain, denied Nakamura’s allegations in a February 25 letter to the London Times which appeared to have been modeled after a letter apparently originally authored by former South Korean ambassador to New Zealand Philip Choi in 1988, and used ever since as a stock response to complaints about dog-eating.

Both Hayaski’s letter and the South Korean letter assert that dog-and/or-cat-eating originated during World War II deprivation, and is now fading out. Both letters also claim that the practices are discouraged by law enforcement.

The extent of cat-eating in Okinawa and South Korea, where the cats are typically boiled alive after having their bones broken with a hammer, is not documented. Cat stews, in both Okinawa and Korea, are apparently consumed mainly as a purported tonic for elderly women.

Dog-eating in South Korea appears to have increased from circa two million dogs per year in 1988 to as many as three million now. Some frozen dog meat is imported from China, Laos, and Thailand, according to investigations by the Korean Animal Protection Society, International Aid for Korean Animals, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Many customers, however––mostly older, affluent men––prefer to see the dogs killed in front of them, via slow hanging, a bone-breaking flogging, and blow-torching to remove hair. Common belief holds that the greater the agony to the dog, the more adrenalin will saturate the meat, imparting manly qualities to the consumer.

Under pressure from IFAW and WSPA before the 1988 Olympic Games, held in Seoul, South Korea mandated that dog-meat preparation and consumption be kept away from tourist areas. When IFAW reopened the campaign in 1991, South Korea adopted an essentially unenforcible animal protection law. No one is known to have ever been charged with violating it. Both in 1988 and 1991, however, then-IFAW president Brian Davies declared victory and moved to other issues.

Renewed opposition to Korean dog-andcat-eating rose from within South Korea in early 1999, after minority party legislator Kim Hong Shin introduced a bill to add dogs to the official list of animals who may be raised and slaughtered for meat. Action on the bill was postponed for at least three years after KAPS founder Sunnan Kum, of Seoul, and her younger sister, Kyenan Kum, who founded IAKA from Oakland, California, asked supporters to promote a boycott of the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament.

The World Cup events are to be divided between South Korea and Japan.

[Contact KAPS and IAKA c/o P.O. Box 20600, Oakland, CA 94620; 510-271-6795; fax 510-451-0643; .]

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