North Korean dictator hosts dog meat dinner for diplomats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2000:

SEOUL, Korea––Hosting South Korean diplomats at the Pyongyang Tongogi dog meat restaurant on August 31, North Korean head of state Kim Jong-il on August 31 dashed any hope that his June trade of purebred hunting dogs with South Korean president Kim Dae-jung might elevate the status of ordinary dogs in the street.

Currently, two to three million Korean dogs per year are elevated by slow hanging, are flogged as they strangle, and are dehaired by blowtorch while still alive, to insure that their flesh is suffused with adrenalin before consumption.

The meal signified that Kim Jong-il considers eating dog meat integral to a shared Korean culture.

“I don’t know if the North decided on dog-meat because this is something both sides can understand, but it seems symbolic of a nationalistic feeling,” South China Morning Post correspondent Roger Dean Du Mars said a Unification Ministry official told him.

Added Du Mars, “Seoul officials said Unification minister Park Jae-kyu complimented the dishes and showed a keen knowledge of dog-meat varieties. Partly at the behest of Kim-Jong-il and his late father, founder of the Stalinist state, North Koreans prize dog meat. However, the dish is only available to a small fraction of the population. Dog meat is equally esteemed in the South, where it is eaten by 25% of the men.”

Just a week earlier, crusaders against the Korean practice of not only eating dogs but torturing them to death slowly to flush their remains with adrenalin were briefly encouraged when the Seoul newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported extensively on the campaign.

Chosun Ilbo emphasized the activist effort to boycott sponsors of the 2001 soccer World Cup tournament, which is to be played partially in Seoul and partially in Tokyo. Chosun Ilbo described in detail an undercover video of Korean dog-killing made in June by Kyenan Kum, founder of International Aid for Korean Animals––and described how Americans responded when it was aired on June 28 by the New York City-based syndicated evening cable TV show Pet Talk Live.

Chosun Ilbo also extensively interviewed Pet Talk Live producer and host Garo Alexanian, who continues to give Korean dog-eating a high profile.

“There are roughly seven countries, including Vietnam and China, that eat dogs, “ Alexanian explained, “but Korea is the only one that produces and eats farm-bred dog meat on a large scale, with modern technology.”

Added Chosun Ilbo, “After the program aired on Pet Talk Live, many other TV producers in the U.S. requested to air the tape. Both ITN in England and a TV station in Canada aired the same footage, and the biggest television company in Spain also has plans to do so.”

Finally Chosun Ilbo published a complete list of U.S.-based World Cup sponsors who may be feeling activist heat.

But that scrap of encouragement came, in turn, a week after Kyenan Kum appealed for legal information toward stopping the attempt of a Korean man now living in Maryland to “import ‘medicinal’ dog juice from Korea to sell to Koreans in the U.S.”

China report confirmed

The long-circulating rumor that would-be Chinese factory-farmers of dogs for human consumption are seeking to import St. Bernard breeding stock meanwhile heated up again when New Zealand First party leader Wnston Peters on August 9 disclosed an affidavit from an ex-police officer who said he had been offered approximately $500 U.S. apiece for four puppies, on the pretext that they were to be trained for police work.

“Not even Switzerland uses St. Bernards for police work,” Peters pointed out.

Julie Chao of the Cox News Service got the scoop, in Datong, China.

“As [dog breeder/speculator] Zhang Weilin sees it,” Chao wrote, “it’s only a matter of time before the dog meat industry takes off. With his 90 St. Bernards, he’s counting on being at the forefront.”

Said Zhang, “When China opens the dog meat market and dog-breeding industry, it will gradually become like raising cows and sheep. But industrialization of dog-breeding will not take as long as the domestication of cows and sheep.”

Explained Chao, “Zhang oversees what he says is China’s largest St. Bernard breeding center, and the only one that is government-run. So far Zhang’s farm is only breeding dogs, not slaughtering them. But he said he has plans to build what he says will be China’s first large-scale dog meat factory.”

Stoking speculation in St. Bernard breeding stock all over China with the promise that dog-farming will be three to four times as profitable as raising pigs or poultry, Zhang reportedly made back his initial investment of $324,000 within one year.

Birds & bears

London Times Hong Kong correspondent Robin Young earlier in August disclosed that entrepreneurs in Hepu County, Guangxi province, just north of Vietnam, are gearing up to produce up to 1,000 metric tons of foie gras per year––twice the output of France, and nearly as much as Hungary.

“The British Government has indicated that it would regard animal welfare legislation as prohibiting foie gras production in this country,” Young wrote.

China, however, has no humane laws except in Hong Kong.

Beijing police and forestry officials seemed to crack down on cruelty by seizing three bears in mid-August from outlaw bile distributors operating from a suburban hotel. The authorities were reportedly tipped off by neighbors who heard the bears’ moans.

One bear required immediate lifesaving surgery by Animals Asia Foundation veterinarian Gail Cochrane.

“The outburst and revelations in the local media were encouraging,” wrote London T i m e s Beijing correspondent Oliver August, “suggesting a change in traditional Chinese attitudes on cruelty to animals. But the response of Chinese officialdom was less heartening, since it was concerned about the restaurant’s lack of a license to sell bear bile rather than addressing the ethical issue. The authorities are also trying to convince foreign governments that milking bears for their bile is not as cruel as it seems and that moves are underway to control any abuses.”

Elsewhere

Thai authorities, fed up with the growth and excesses of a dog meat trade that was brought to Thailand by Vietnamese refugees of ethnic Chinese descent during the 1970s, are pursuing a public education campaign against eating dogs and are drafting legislation to forbid it. But back in Vietnam, Chompoo Trakullertsathien of the B a n g k o k P o s t reported on August 19, so-called Thit Cho restaurants where customers often select the dogs to be killed for their meals now line Tayho Street in the Dinh Tien Hoang district of old Hanoi. The busiest restaurants kill about 10 dogs a day, Trakullertsathien said.

August also brought reports of both dog-eating and cat-eating in Liberia; a photograph of a sign advertising a cat meat restaurant in Ghana, treated as “humor” on page 27 of the South African travel magazine Getaway; an August 4 expose by P. Oppoli of The Hindu of alleged cat theft and cat-eating by gypsies in the Pallavaram district of Chennai (Madras), India; and, from Tokyo, a Yomiuri Shimbun profile of “cat theatre” promoter Yuri Kuklachev, 51, a Moscovite whose act was until 1990 part of the Bolshoi Circus.

Kuklachev was in Japan to present an anti-fur play featuring 26 trained cats and four dogs. Kuklachev told Yomiuri Shimbun staff writer Mikiko Miyakawa that he was inspired by his dismay at discovering that some Argentinians wear cat fur.

Kuklachev made no evident mention that despite growing opposition to the practice, many Russian pounds have skinned dogs and cats to sell their fur since czarist times.

[The next of a series of rallies against Korean dog-eating held around the U.S. and Canada since June 1999 is to be on October 14 in Fort Lauderdale. Get details from: <tapster@mindspring.com> or www.koreananimals.org. The rallies are coordinated by International Aid for Korean Animals, POB 20600, Oakland, CA 94620; 510-271-6795; fax 510-451-0643; <ifkaps@msn.com>.]
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