Dog and cat eaters hide behind foreign media gullibility

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2003:

Dog and cat eaters hide behind foreign media gullibility
by Sunnan Kum

I recently received some photographs of dogs at a Korean
market, courageously taken by Mark Lloyd of the London Daily Mail.
I have seen so many photographs of abused animals before
these that I already felt wearied, and thought I had virtually no
more capacity for sadness.
Once again I saw the eyes of the caged dogs, their faces
full of sadness, fear and loneliness. Yet I also saw hope from the
same eyes: hope that someone may one day bring them home and love
I told myself that these dogs were by now already at peace
and had finally found the release they so deserved. I tried to
console myself with this belief, but whenever I thought of their
loving, trusting eyes, I dissolved into tears. I felt that their
images were somehow urging me to do more for other animals still

When human rights are abused, many countries will strongly
urge the offending nation to change.
They will not interfere, however, in response to animal
abuse, such as the practice of eating dogs and cats. Yet the abuse
of animals often leads to abuse of human rights too. Every nation
must help each other to root out these evils.
Dog-eating and cat-eating by small but influential minorities
in many Asian countries has for several years now been globally
controversial. Dog-eating in South Korea is most widely known to the
world, because the South Korean government refused to recognize the
issue as animal abuse, and instead tried to justify dog-eating with
the claim that dog meat is a traditional Korean food.
Because of this, many foreigners now believe that eating
dogs is an established Korean tradition and that all Koreans enjoy
eating dog meat.
I am outraged that the dog meat industry so distorts our
history and culture, and am even more angered that some foreign
media amplify the dog eaters’ lies.
Yes, we have dog meat eaters in Korea, but we also have many
citizens who are opposed to dog meat, and the number of people
opposing it is growing.
Foreign reporters and producers who appear to side with the
dog eaters are in effect discriminating against the huge majority of
Koreans who do not eat dogs, and especially those Koreans who are
actively trying to protect animals.
The gullibility of foreign media may be the most frustrating
obstacle we face in our effort to establish a positive environment
for animals in Korea.
Thanks to misinformed reporting, the dog meat industry now
shamelessly promotes dog meat to visitors as a traditional Korean
food and urges the entire world to eat it. On July 31, 2003, for
example, the Korean daily newspaper Jungang Ilbo published a
photograph of German Taegundo players eating dog meat with smiling
faces– which the Germans probably would not have done, certainly
not on camera, if they knew that to many Koreans this was an
Some of our ancestors did eat dog meat, but purely to avoid
starvation in times of famine. The authentic traditional cuisine of
Korea is vegetarian, based on barley, rice, kimchi, bean sauce
and seasoned vegetables. Most of our ancestors did not enjoy dog
meat. On the contrary, Buddhism was the Korean state religon from
circa 350 B.C. until the Mongol invasion of 1231, and emphasized
compassion toward animals. The traditional Korean teaching was that
one should never eat animals who display affection.
All Koreans should have inherited such kind and compassionate
dispositions from our ancestors, with the potential to be
Undoubtedly, some Koreans are today eating dogs out of
ignorance. If we can correct this fault, Korea shall no longer
cause shame to our ancestors, as well as international
embarrassment, and our country will once again become a nation of
animal lovers of whom we can all be proud.
While our sister organization, International Aid for Korean
Animals, campaigns abroad, the Korean Animal Protection Society has
always worked almost entirely within Korea. We continue our public
education and sanctuary work in Daegu and Seoul. Much of our
activity parallels that of humane societies in other nations, for
instance informing the public about spaying and neutering. A recent
rapid rise in petkeeping means this work is increasingly important to
prevent Korea from developing dog and cat overpopulation. Thanks to
generous support from caring people both at home and abroad, we have
also begun building a new sanctuary, which will double as an animal
welfare education center.
After more than 20 years of effort to eradicate the dog and
cat meat industry, we have no illusions that it will be ended
easily, or that a humane future for Korean animals can be secured
overnight. However, we dare believe that by employing a realistic
and persistent approach, allied with caring people from all around
the world, we can one day achieve our dream of a compassionate
Korea, for both its animals and its people.
[Adapted from Sunnan Kum’s address to the Asia for Animals
conference on September 4, 2003., in Hong Kong. Contact Sunnan Kum
c/o <>. Tax-deductible donations to KAPS may be
sent c/o IAKA, P.O. Box 20600, Oakland, CA 94620; 510-271-6795;
fax 510-451-0643; <>;

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