Dog meat diplomacy wins Nobel
OSLO, Norway––An August 31
dog meat dinner for South Korean diplomats
hosted in the North Korean capital city of
Pyongyang by North Korean dictator Kim
Jong-il helped win the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize
for South Korean president Kim Dae Jung.
Kim Dae Jung, 74, won the
$908,300 Nobel Peace Prize for taking the initiative
since 1997 in opening diplomatic relations
with North Korea. Kim Jong-il won a rare
honorable mention from Nobel Committee
chair Gunnar Berge for responding positively.
On June 13, 2000, following three
years of cautious overtures, Kim Dae Jung
flew to Pyongyang to negotiate directly with
The two leaders traded pairs of hunting
dogs, of breeds unique to their respective
sides of the boundary between the Koreas.
They apparently also discussed the
decline of the Paektu Mountain tiger, a variant
of Siberian tiger native to the North Korean
mountains. In early October, Seoul National
University professor Hwang Woo-sok, 47,
disclosed to South China Morning Post correspondent
Roger Dean Du Mars that he had
already been working with North Korea for
several months in hopes of cloning Paektu
Mountain tigers, but added that the project had
initially been kept secret.
Fear of poachers might have been one
reason for the secrecy; fears of outcry over the
use of genetic technology and the release of
South Korean technology to North Korea might
have been others.
Animal advocates dared hope for
about six weeks after Kim Dae Jung and Kim
Jong-il first met that their claimed affection for
dogs would help expedite an end to Korean
Dogs are commonly eaten in many
parts of the world, but the Korean style of
killing dogs as painfully and slowly as possible
in order to saturate their flesh with adrenalin
appears to be unique, as is the custom of boiling
cats alive in order to drink their body fluids.
Dogs are eaten mostly by men in their prime
earning years or older; tonics made from cats
are favored by elderly women.
Kim Dae Jung could empathize with
caged, doomed, and tortured dogs and cats
from direct experience––if he chose to.
Imprisoned by the Communist invasion force
during the Korean War, Kim Dae Jung was
reportedly slated for execution when freed by
an Allied counterattack. He entered politics in
1954, advocating democracy, but was jailed or
placed under house arrest at least 55 times. He
also survived a series of assassination attempts
allegedly ordered by former South Korean dictator
Park Chung Hee, who declared martial
law after Kim Dae Jung won 46% of the vote in
a surprisingly close 1971 national election.
On August 8, 1973, Kim Dae Jung
again helplessly contemplated his death, after
agents of the Park regime drugged and kidnapped
him in Tokyo. Tying weights to Kim
Dae Jung’s legs, the would-be killers rushed
him out to sea in a speedboat to “disappear.”
But just as he was about to be tossed overboard,
a U.S. military helicopter caught up to the boat
and lit the deck with a spotlight. Kim Dae Jung
was not released by his captors, however, for
another five days.
But Kim Dae Jung as South Korean president has done no more than any of his precessors to enforce weak anti-dogmeat and anti-cruelty proclamations and legislation issued in 1978, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1991.
Hopes raised by the dog-swapping of Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong-il were dashed, meanwhile, by the appearance of dog meat at the August 31 banquet, which formalized and commemorated the resumption of relations. Although Kim Dae Jung himself was back in Seoul, the banquet was attended by many of the most top people in his administration.
The meal signified that Kim Jong-il considers eating dog meat integral to a shared Korean culture, South China Morning Post correspondent Roger Dean Du Mars reported.
“Seoul officials said [North Korean] Unification minister Park Jae-kyu compliment- ed the dishes and showed a keen knowledge of dog-meat varieties,” Du Mars added, men- tioning that Kim-Jong-il too is known for eat- ing dogs.
Agenda vs. menu
While South Korean media celebrat- ed the Nobel Prize for Kim Dae Jung, sisters Sunnan Kum and Kyenan Kum sought a way to put dog and cat meat on the agenda instead of the menu.
Sunnan Kum, 55, founded the Korea Animal Protection Society in 1981 and opened the first animal shelter in Korea five years later.
Several years after that, Sunnan Kum introduced neuter/return feral cat popula- tion control, in lieu of poisoning. One note- worthy recent display of the technique came at Inchon City during the week of May 22-June 3, 2000. The KAPS veterinarian, a Dr. Im, neutered 45 cats in all, of whom 35 were returned to their habitat while the 10 youngest were put up for adoption at the KAPS shelter.
Kyenan Kum, the younger sister, emigrated to the U.S. several years ago and formed International Aid for Korean Animals to raise funds to assist Sunnan.
Endowed by the fortune of mining engineer Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dyna- mite, the Nobel Peace Prize is often described as the world ’s highest humanitarian honor. Several winners have had distinguished records on behalf of animals as well as people, at least in the context of their times. Among them were Theodore Roosevelt (1906) and Albert Schweizer (1952).
However, the prize has never actual- ly been awarded for work on behalf of nonhu- mans – –and the indifference of the judges toward animal suffering as a humanitarian issue may never have been more evident than in the selection of Kim Dae Jung just as Korean dog meat eating practices are heating up as an international animal protection issue.
There are four Nobel Prizes in all. The prizes for great achievement in science, medicine, and literature are awarded by Swedish institutions and presented by the king of Sweden in Copenhagen.
The Peace Prize, however, is awarded by a committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament, and is presented by the king of Norway in Oslo.
All four Nobel Prizes are presentedeach year on December 10.
The influence of the Norwegian whaling and sealing industries has historically made Oslo a hard place to hold protests on ani- mal issues. But there will be a protest outside the Peace Prize presentation ceremony, Kyenan Kum promised ANIMAL PEOPLE .
Coordinating and leading the demonstration, Kum said, would be Maggie Hansen of Bergen. Hansen has a yellow dog closely resembling the dogs who are bred for meat in Korea and China, and has been a supporter of International Aid for Korean Animals for some time, according to Kyenan Kum, who added that she would personally fly to Oslo to join Hansen. Simultaneous protests were to be held outside Korean offices in New York City and other cities around the world.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare and World Society for the Protection of Animals may still favor quiet diplomacy toward securing the unconsumated “victories” that each claimed several times to have won, but the growing Korean humane community is increasingly inclined to take opposition to dog- and-cat-eating to the streets, finding allies through both Internet activism and energetic direct outreach.
Thus, Kim Dae Jung has already been put on notice several times that the inac- tion of his government against sellers and eaters of dogs and cats will not be ignored.
“Kim Dae Jung was in New York City in early September, ” Kyenan Kum explained. “On the evening of September 8 we demonstrated in front of the hotel that host- ed the Korea Society’s annual dinner,” honor- ing Kim Dae Jung, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and 1973 Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger.
Companion Animal Network founder Garo Alexanian not only organized the New York City demonstration on short notice, but also delivered directly to Kissinger a pack- et of literature plus a video of Korean dog mar- ket torture and slaughter.
At least two other Korea Society din- ner attendees requested and were given copies of the protest materials to take into the hotel with them.
One board member of the Korea Society threatened to sue the demonstrators, Kyenan Kum said.
But Kissinger responded on October 5, on his personal letterhead, “Please know that I am very sympathetic to your cause and intend to raise this important matter with the appropriate Korean officials as soon as I can.”
Kyenan Kum thanked Kissinger immediately and rushed a specially prepared political history of the dog-eating issue to him.
Unfortunately, Kissinger on October 25 suffered a heart attack. Now age 77, Kissinger was hospitalized for six days, and there has been no indication as yet that he has been able to follow through on his promise.
Kyenan Kum, meanwhile, was back in Korea, helping the British-based Inter- national Television Network to produce an undercover expose of the Seoul dog markets.[Contact Kyenan Kum for further information, c/o IAKA, P.O. Box 20600, Oakland, CA 94620; 510-271-6795; fax 510- 451-0643; <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <www.kore – ananimals.org>.]