Show us real love for dogs, Korean anti-dog-meat activists tell dog-swapping heads of state

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2000:

SEOUL, Korea; NEW YORK, N . Y .––South Korean president Kim Dae-jung marked the first-ever visit to North Korea by a South Korean head-of-state by presenting North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il a pair of husky-like chindo hunting dogs.

Kim Jong-il reciprocated by giving Kim Dae-jung a pair of pung-san dogs.

Broad though the differences between the two Koreas are, both leaders and their nations prize their distinctive dogs.

But few people can afford a dog in famine-plagued North Korea. Most dogs in the north were long since killed and eaten.

South Korea by contrast has a booming dog-breeding industry: purebreds for pets; mongrels for meat, after death by torture.

As the Korean leaders posed for photos with their new dogs, Kyenan Kum of International Aid for Korean Animals and Royal SPCA representative Paul Littlefare were in Seoul documenting on video that dogeating is as unrestrained and sadistic as ever, 14 years after passage of an anti-dog-eating law and nine years after passage of an anti-cruelty law. Neither law has ever been enforced. Dogs are still slowly hanged; beaten as they choke until most of their bones are broken; and then dehaired—still alive––by blowtorch, while dog-eaters watch to ensure that fear and pain saturate the victims’ flesh with adrenalin.

The consumers are mostly men, middle-aged and older, who imagine that dogeating improves their virility. They are a small minority of the Korean public, but hold disproportionate influence as business owners, heads of families, and holders of office––and though their numbers are believed to be declining, the strength of the Korean economy enables them to eat more dogs than ever. Ministry of Agriculture statistics indicate that about three million dogs per year are eaten in Korea now, up by about a million since 1986.

No one counts the cats who are pulverized with hammers and boiled alive to make a tonic favored by elderly women.

As recently as April 11, 1995, the only thing 23-year-old Choi Hui-bok, of Pusan, could think of to do to stop the cruelty was hang herself, as dogs are hanged, for her dog-eating husband Chung Hae-soo to find.

But something has changed. I n s t e a d of only foreigners protesting against dog-eating, begging Koreans to act, Koreans are now protesting, asking sympathetic people worldwide to pressure the sponsors of World Cup Soccer 2002, to be played in part in Seoul. The Korean activists are asking the World Cup sponsors to demand enforcement of the neglected laws against cruelty and dog-eating.

When international pressure won the unenforced laws, the only Korean humane organization was Korean Animal Protection Society, founded by Sunnan Kum in 1981. There are now at least three, of competing philosophy and fast-growing cumulative impact.

It was Kyenan Kum this time, younger sister of Sunnan Kum, who hand-carried the new video of dog-eating practices to New York City, where Pets Alive cable TV host Garo Alexanian was to air it on June 28.

Twelve U.S.-based national humane organizations endorsed anti-dog-eating protests which were to be held on June 29 outside the Korean consulates in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C., Canada, as well as at the facilities of World Cup sponsors in Tampa, Vancouver, and San Jose.

The star speakers were to be not American activists, nor celebrities but rather Koreans––like Kyenan Kum, and others whose messages would be read aloud, like a previously unknown Mrs. H.K. Cho, who emailed her letter of support on June 25.

“Never mind posing with privileged purebreds,” they told the Korean leaders, in gist. “Release the dogs who are stuffed tightly into cages and stacked at the dog-meat restaurants to watch others being killed, awaiting their own turn. That is what will impress us.”

[The Korean Animal Protection Society may be contacted c/o International Aid for Korean Animals, POB 20600, Oakland, CA 94620; 510-271-6795; fax 510-451-0643; <>.]</>

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