Today I ate something that, several years ago, I swore I would never eat. Sara, Alisa, and I went to a restaurant and ordered boshintang (보신탕). One unique thing about boshintang is its primary ingredient… dog meat.
While dog meat is part of Korean cuisine, it is a very small part. There are many Koreans who won’t eat it for the same reasons Westerners won’t… they love their pets. In fact, when I told my boss I had eaten some, she was horrified. She couldn’t believe I would want to eat a dog! But, there are those who don’t mind so much and, in fact, quite like the greasy, gamy meat.
Now, for those of you who think eating dog is cruel and the people who do it are sadistic animal abusers…. you have no freaking idea. It’s something you really have to experience to believe, something no words can adequately describe… but, for your sake, I will do my best. Prepare yourself…
The Tale of Kip: a Tragedy
You know those seafood restaurants where you go in, approach the tank, and look at the imprisoned fish swimming around in order to pick the perfect one for your consumption? Where you judge size, plumpness, vigor, and overall tasty-lookingness? This was kind of like that. Except with puppies.
Upon entering the restaurant, my friends and I were assailed by the smells and sounds of pure, abject terror. There were puppies in cages, frantically clawing in a vain attempt to escape. There were raucous, blood-thirsty patrons waving haunches and limbs with sadistic abandon. And, in the back, there lurked a butcher with a heavy brow and embers for eyes; wielding a cleaver with sickening, malicious accuracy. Ladies and gentlemen, this here was the real deal! My friends and I mustered our courage and regained our composure, cause we ain’t no yellow-bellies and that there’s the God’s honest truth!
It was time to pick our dinner.
Kip, moments before I picked him.
Now, as you know, eating dogs is a practice in cruelty so, naturally, we had some expectations to live up to. That being the case; my friends, the restaurant staff, other patrons, and I engaged in a bit of dog-fighting. My pooch got pretty messed up, but he managed to rip my friend’s dog to shreds, so I won a nice wad of cash. Atta’ boy, Kip!
Unfortunately, winning the fight doesn’t improve the dogs’ chances of survival, so I killed Kip then and there so he didn’t get any funny ideas.
Finally, I had to prepare man’s best friend for my tummy. The restaurant has the perfect room for this, a nice cave carved into a nearby cliff. There was a fire already roaring, mats of woven reed to rest on, and the skins of countless furry critters to adorn ourselves with. Oh, and roasting spits.
It was slightly reminiscent of roasting s’mores, but with a great deal more blood and the sound of yelping puppies in the background. It was quite nice. With Kip sizzling over an open flame and the sounds of canine despair caressing my eardrums, I felt like I had returned to a primal state of being… and it was wonderful.
After a short while Kip started getting a little crispy, so I took him off the flames and took a big, messy bite. He… tasted… MAGNIFICENT. I knew then and there I would eat every dog I encountered for the rest of my days. Who would’a thunk it? Yay for puppy consumption!
So it didn’t happen like that.
Not even close.
Actually that entire story was a lie.
I didn’t choose the dog for my meal. I didn’t see it alive first. I didn’t take part in a dog fight. I didn’t kill the dog myself, and I didn’t roast it over the open flame.
It was a restaurant like any other, and I ate a meal much like any other… just with a different type of meat. And it tasted pretty darn good! The restaurant was on a small side street a minute’s walk from my apartment. It was owned by a lively elderly Korean couple who were quite set on making sure we had the perfect boshintang experience! The man came and politely made sure we had all the sides we needed, using sign language and small amounts of Korean to tell us how to eat certain things. Then… his wife entered the fray. One by one, she worked her way around the table; wresting away our chopsticks, adding scoops of spices to our soups, throwing bones on the table, and enunciating each action with a brisk, “CHA!” reminiscent of Emeril. She was hilarious. While she was showing me how to eat my dish she loaded up a bite on my chopsticks and shoved it into my mouth. She did the same thing to Sara, but it was so hot that Sara had to spit it out, to the great amusement of all present. It was definitely one of the most entertaining meals I’ve eaten recently!
Does this mean that, when I eventually get a dog of my own, Deus will have to watch his back constantly as I roam the halls with fork and knife in hand? Absolutely not.
PUPPY PICTURE OBTAINED FROM: The Daily Puppy, which is a great source for cute puppy pictures… and raw material for horrible edits on cute puppy pictures!
Fun note: I had the description for Kip written before I saw the picture. I typed in “ear dog cute” in Google and Kip was the second puppy to pop up! Destiny…
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I want to point out that I did read your blog post in it’s entirety and did know the first part was a “joke.” But I think that what you
don’t realize that your joke is that it is closer to the truth than you know.
“Second, all the talk about Koreans being horrible and how we should boycott Korea is ridiculous. Having been to Korea for a significant amount of time and becoming friends with many Koreans, I can say firsthand that this issue is as polarizing there as it is here. My good Korean friend has a barbeque every year with her family in which they eat dog. My boss, on the other hand, was horrified when I told her I ate dog and slugged me on the shoulder. It is racially ignorant, insensitive, and plain wrong to spew such hate at an entire country for the behavior of SOME of the individuals in it (which isn’t wrong but happens to be something you disagree with). America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Would you be offended if an acquaintance from Korea became angry and accused you of being a criminal? I would hope so!”
I never claimed Koreans were just outright horrible people. What I said in my comment was that I feel bad for the ordinary Korean person who has to live there and fight for justice, only to be railroaded by tourists who come in and do this to get their kicks. I am Spanish American. I live in Spain and also know what its like to fight for the rights of animals only to have tourists come in and totally disrespect our efforts. I have friends through this movement who live in South Korea who are experiencing this nightmare. You can’t just claim it’s not happening to sooth your conscience.
“Finally, the type of dog that is used for food in South Korea is a breed that is raised AS a food source. They do not use ‘pet’ breeds. The animals are not tortured to make the meat taste better, though this may be a practice in some countries and in some circles. There are not Koreans who go around stealing people’s pet dogs to put in a stew. Pet dogs are very popular in Korea. There are dog cafes (where people bring their dogs and have a coffee, put your pitchforks down), dog parks, and dog stores dedicated to pampering their pooches. Anyone who had actually been to Korea would have been able to see these things for themselves. “
I think you are wildly misinformed. Dogs ARE stolen from people’s homes all the time. They are not just bred on “farms.” It is not just the yellow breed of dog, as you claim. They are tortured to make their meat taste better. They have even recently started dragging them behind their vehicles to kill them because they believe it gives the same adrenaline rush and kills them. Before you actually claim you know the facts do some research. I am going to provide you with some links. I hope that you take a moment to read them and become aware of the facts. If this was all out of ignorance, fine, but I hope you care enough to at least become informed.
http://www.stopitkorea.org/- is South Korean. If you don’t trust Western news sources about the issue, you can read accounts and see videos for yourself from actual Koreans.
http://imgur.com/a/5fCTu- Photos of dogs in South Korea being boiled alive, burned alive, hung, and tortured. You can claim they aren’t alive, but the animals are in the boiling pots of water desperately trying to jump out.
http://www.idausa.org/campaigns/dogs-cats/dogs-and-cats-of-south-korea/- more info
I can understand how one would like to eat the local delicacy, but to support a meat trade that promotes torture of the animals is just not cool. That’s not culture. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’m very disgusted. -KV
Also, it was about 6,000 won, which is less than $6.
My response above was directed at previous comments and statements made on the No to Dog Meat site. I saw your comment after I had posted it.
I did not approve your comment because of the profanity you used in it, something I would rather not have on my blog for family and friends to see. This last comment, however, was a little more on the civil side, so I published it.
Nathan Anderson –
1 – I may be Asian, but I am absolutely NOT affiliated with No to Dog Meat in anyway. Sorry if that was your assumption. There are hundreds upon hundreds of organizations dedicated to fighting this practice, all over the world. The foundation I work for (based in the USA) is but one.
2 – I am Asian myself, as I previously stated, and would never recommend boycotting an entire nation for a practice espoused by few. Again, your assumption – incorrect, sorry.
3 – I still stand by the comment I made…which I assume you will not post here, but there you go.
4 – No matter how you frame it for your own conscience, what you did was lame. You gave money – tourist money – probably lots of it, since you and your friends are prime targets for overcharging for this “novelty” food item – and you gave that money directly to support a cruel industry. You made a dog suffer badly and it is now dead because of your whim, and you had a meal which is long ago past, and probably long since forgotten. That’s the long and short of it, and I am very sorry for that dog, and for any Americans who hold a similar mindset to yours, read this, and now think – gee, what a great idea. I’ll go do that too.
Last and not least –
5 – Rebecca is a friend, and well-respected colleague. She is a dear soul. Thanks for at least posting her comment.
Thanks Rebecca for at least having the decency to be civil about your disagreement.
Since the ‘No to Dog Meat’ page on Facebook banned me from the group and deleted all the totally legitimate comments I made to participate in the ‘conversation’, I’ll post a few things here. First off, if anyone actually read this post in its entirety, they would have seen that the whole first part was a joke (admittedly, in poor taste) and that the restaurant did not, in fact, have a pick-a-puppy program, or a dog fighting ring, or anything of the kind. It was a very normal restaurant.
Second, all the talk about Koreans being horrible and how we should boycott Korea is ridiculous. Having been to Korea for a significant amount of time and becoming friends with many Koreans, I can say firsthand that this issue is as polarizing there as it is here. My good Korean friend has a barbeque every year with her family in which they eat dog. My boss, on the other hand, was horrified when I told her I ate dog and slugged me on the shoulder. It is racially ignorant, insensitive, and plain wrong to spew such hate at an entire country for the behavior of SOME of the individuals in it (which isn’t wrong but happens to be something you disagree with). America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Would you be offended if an acquaintance from Korea became angry and accused you of being a criminal? I would hope so!
Finally, the type of dog that is used for food in South Korea is a breed that is raised AS a food source. They do not use ‘pet’ breeds. The animals are not tortured to make the meat taste better, though this may be a practice in some countries and in some circles. There are not Koreans who go around stealing people’s pet dogs to put in a stew. Pet dogs are very popular in Korea. There are dog cafes (where people bring their dogs and have a coffee, put your pitchforks down), dog parks, and dog stores dedicated to pampering their pooches. Anyone who had actually been to Korea would have been able to see these things for themselves.
Good morning Nathan, and yes I certainly did read the article in it’s entirety. I am not one of the people who condemns an entire nation for the actions of some. I recognize that many in Korea, China, Thailand and other Asian nations are deeply involved in the efforts to end this trade and change public opinion in their own countries, and it is also my belief that the best hope of ending this is to support those campaigns, as people are more likely to respond to them than to outsiders, whom they view as telling them how to live. The breed of dog you refer to, the Nureongi, is seen by the Korean government as livestock, although they continue to deny this. They have attempted to have the breed classified as such with the UN while they repeatedly say they will not legalize the trade. Those involved in the slaughter would like people to believe that this is the breed used for meat exclusively, but nothing could be further from the truth. All breeds are used for meat, and many have been someone’s pet – yes, pets absolutely DO make it into the food chain, there has been much photographic proof. In addition, there are many people who have purchased these Nureongi dogs from markets in order to save their lives, and these dogs are no different, no less loving or loyal than any other, so the outside package of what animal is tortured should not matter. They are as deserving as any other of compassion. The conditions on dog farms, the transport, the slaughter is incredibly inhumane. The fact they eat the meat, although this is absolutely an unacceptable betrayal to me personally, given the close bond between dogs and people, is not the main issue,it is the unfathomable cruelty involved. The same people who would torture and eat a dog, would most certainly welcome a search and rescue dog if they were lost on a mountain, or trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building, or a seeing eye dog if they were blind, or a police dog if they were in the midst of unrest. To say that certain dogs may be eaten, is much the same as saying one race of people were meant to be enslaved by others because of their colour. How many years did it take, to realise that a human is a human, no matter the outward appearance? If you believe they do not torture the dogs before death, you have not done your homework. Some are killed by electrocution, but there are still many who believe that beatings and blow torching the hair off a live dog, increases the adrenaline released, making the meat better. You have only to start looking at the wealth of proof that exists to see – from Korea AS WELL AS other nations, and those directly involved in fighting this evil would love the chance to talk to you.
I sincerely hope that you will spend some time researching the realities of this trade, those who want to truly understand something need to dedicate some time to seeing from the opposite viewpoint. Again, I urge you to get very familiar with the EVIDENCE, which is plentiful, not the official story that they would like outsiders to believe.
If you consider yourself enlightened for having tried a bit of Korean “culture”, think again. Torture is not culture. If you really want to understand why this trade is so abhorrent, just google images of “dog meat trade” and see for yourself what they endure. Many still believe that the more an animal suffers before it dies, the better the meat, so in addition to the most hideous methods of torture you can think of, boiling alive, skinning alive, beating, hanging, blow torching the fur off while alive, slow bleeding etc etc etc, it is usually done in full view of other terrified animals waiting their turn. Have a good read of the Soi Dog Foundation page, website or facebook, and the Trade of Shame page on facebook. Watch some of the graphic videos. You were brave enough to eat the meat, are you brave enough to see how it suffered? Probably not.
And DanCarrol, sorry, I will never compare dogs who have the most long and unique history of service and loyalty to humans of any animal on earth, to farm animals. None deserve to suffer, and yes the factory farming is despicable, but INTENTIONAL cruelty is not the norm where I live.
I have two (soon to be three) adopted dogs who are DMT rescues from Thailand, and the loyalty they offer is not deserved my many humans, especially after what they have endured, yet they offer it anyway.
You can argue that animals eat animals and that it’s natural. But the fact is humans have a higher consciousness than regular animals. We are more evolved. We can choose not to eat meat if we want and if we do eat meat we can choose a more compassionate ways to kill them. I don’t think any other animal goes out of it’s way to torture it’s food quite like humans do.
The dogs and cats that are sold at the meat markets and supplied to restaurants in South Korea are often people’s pets. They are boiled alive, burned alive, and tortured on purpose because they think it makes the meat more tender or potent for medicinal use and the dog you ate without much thought didn’t escape that same fate. How would you like it if someone came to your home while you were gone and stole your dog, or snatched them while you were out on a walk, only to torture it, kill it, and sell it for consumption? You would be pretty devastated, at least I hope, and would demand justice. So how do you think these pet owners in South Korea feel? Do you think they appreciate you coming into their country and making the suffering of their pets into some kind of game?
There are no proper laws to protect their pets. Ignorant foreigners like you come in and support these criminals so you can take pictures to seem “cool” and “shock” your friends, family, and co workers back at home. This is why people are tired of westerners. You have no respect for the people who actually LIVE in these countries. You are not “cultured” or “worldly” because you tried dog meat. You are cruel and spoiled and prove that people like you care only about their own lives and no one elses.
I firmly believe that if anyone critiques dog eating, they should be a vegan. All animals we eat undergo pain in order to feed us. We shouldn’t look at dogs any differently. In all reality, we should reflect more on the typical meat we consume and how cruelly these animals are treated. I am a meat eater, so I am purely being the devil’s advocate and just backing up my friend Nathan for eating dog. It really angers me how people joke about Asians eating pets and such also. Westerners eat plenty of other cute things and as long as you meat, you have no real ability to tell me why dog meat is worse than veal, chicken, and beef. If you hunt all your meat then I will give you kudos or if you are vegan, but other than that just let it be.