DaDane of DaWeek

 Created: 07/19/04


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I know there may be an outcry over this last photograph. I felt I had to include it. I can only tell you what I was told by our tour guide, who was born and raised on JeJu Island in South Korea. One of our scheduled stops was the local market, known as the 5-day market. It is a huge outdoor market where all kinds of goods are sold. On the bus to the market, our guide kept talking about the variety of merchandise we would be seeing. Several times she mentioned that there would be many dogs for sale. I finally spoke up and asked her if they were being sold as pets. She looked a little embarrassed and told me, "No, most of them are sold for food." With a sinking feeling, I asked her to explain. She told me that mixed breed dogs are usually sold for food, while purebred dogs are usually sold as pets. She added that dog meat is consumed more often by men than women because it is believed to make men "stronger." She went on to tell me how the dogs are cooked, but I will spare you the details.

When we reached the market, I asked our guide to take me to the area where the dogs are sold. There were many cages set up all along the edge of the market place. It was clear which dogs were intended as pets because they were well groomed and placed in nicer cages. Others were not as fortunate. I did not see any adult dogs for sale. Most were just puppies. I took a lot of photographs, but this particular pup was the one that really got to me.

I must say we saw plenty of dogs while we were in Busan, Korea. They were clearly pets. People could be seen strolling the streets or sitting at outdoor restaurants with a cute little dog tucked under one arm. The dogs appeared to be adult purebreds of various types and they were always very small. Often they were dressed in some sort of fancy sweater despite the heat. You could tell they were well loved and well cared for.

In Busan I saw no dog meat in the markets or on the menu. I can't say whether or not dog meat is commonly consumed in Korea. Perhaps in less urban areas (such as JeJu Island ) the practice persists, while in the larger cities it does not. I just don't know. While the notion of eating dog meat is disturbing to western cultures, it was not my place to judge – or pry – while I was a guest in Korea. I let the subject drop.

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