Anger growing in South Korea against foreign media coverage of dog meat
Critics say reports by CNN and other media outlets fail to respect cultural differences and simply aim to undermine efforts of the Winter Olympics
By Lee Kyung-min
A growing number of people here are venting their anger at foreign media outlets’ negative coverage of dog meat consumption, the once-common custom that is mostly shunned today by Koreans. Most people here consider the collective criticism by CNN and other media outlets of the rapidly-dying culinary practice as a smear campaign to undercut Korea’s efforts to make a success of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
A CNN report entitled “In the shadow of the Olympics, a brutal trade in dog meat,” the writer said, “While those athletes are skating and skiing and curling their way into Olympic history, not far away, something sinister is happening: Dogs are being slaughtered for their meat at more than 17,000 dog meat farms around that country. In South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, farmers raise dogs to slaughter them for their meat. Until the day they are killed, in some cases brutally, dogs farmed for meat are left alone in metal cages similar to chicken coops. They are given water just once a day and fed food scraps. They have no human contact, which dogs both need and crave. No love. No medical attention. And it’s all legal.”
The report drew criticism from many Koreans as it failed to fully respect cultural differences and judged Korea with the standards of an outsider that has no understanding of how some Koreans do not necessarily think of the animal as a life companion. CNN is one among many western media outlets including CBS, The Independent, The Sun, Fox News, Newsweek, USA TODAY and The Australian that ran similar stories.
“It is nothing short of a tactic to instigate negative public sentiment towards the Koreans using broad sweeping terms as one comment that read ‘dog meat-eating inhumane group of people.’ I don’t understand how people from some western countries fail to see this is a sheer imposition of their opinion. Would they have claimed the same had many Koreans raised cattle or pigs as pets? It’s the definition of narrow-mindedness.”
Others said Americans as well as foreigners should think about how their beef-loving culture would be just as abhorrent to Indians where cows are endeared and respected. “Are they really asserting that eating only dog meat is unacceptable knowing how the Indians would view them eating beef? Not to mention how Muslims would feel about them eating pork? The fact that they are continuing to give this old news coverage and how they have a distorted sense of cultural superiority. Do they not know about the term relativism?”
A large number of the older generation of Koreans were limited in their protein consumption in the aftermath of the Korean war (1950-53) with livestock such as cattle or pigs being considered vital means of production in an agricultural society. Many foreign reports failed to cover the recent development in Korea where more of the younger generation are inclined to own pets and are reluctant to eat dog meat.
“I think this issue will slowly but surely phase out as not as many young people are choosing dog meat over other food. Critical foreign media coverage only seems as an attempt to taint Korea as the host of the Pyeongchang Olympics,” said a man surnamed Kim, who has a pet dog.