2.5 million dogs are bred each year in South Korea for human consumption.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – As the Winter Olympics approach this week, figure skater Meagan Duhamel still shudders to think the dog she rescued from South Korea might have ended up on someone’s dinner plate.
Duhamel, a Canadian, is a contender with Eric Radford in the pairs competition and heads to Pyeongchang in search of gold, as well as another dog that she can save from slaughter.
Eating dog meat is common and legal in Korea, as well as many parts of Asia, and is mainly eaten by older people. Dotted around the country are thousands of restaurants serving “gaegogi” dishes that, according to folklore, have strengthening and medicinal properties.
“It is just sad because when the world is watching the Olympics little is known or spoken about the (Korean dog meat trade),” Duhamel told USA TODAY Sports. ”There are hundreds of dog meat farms tucked away and nobody is talking about this. The buzz will be about the Olympics.”
According to The Associated Press, restaurants “nearly in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium” are still selling dog meat meals. According to the Humane Society International, around 2.5 million Korean dogs are killed for their meat each year.
The Korean government, realizing the issue is sensitive for foreigners, has offered money to restaurants if they stop serving dog meat during the Games and has requested that signs advertising the meals be covered up or removed.
“This is an Olympics story,” Marc Ching, a Bay Area activist who founded the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, said. “I am half Korean. Koreans are very proud of hosting the Olympics. Why this has to be tied to the Olympics is that the government itself is actually paying to hide this from the world. Maybe if … they just said ‘this is part of our culture,’ it would be different.”
Animal rights activists claim that dogs, as well as cats, in the meat trade are subjected to horrific conditions and insist nothing is being done to end the practice. That is despite Korean President Moon Jae-in being a dog lover who recently adopted a pet saved from a dog meat farm. Campaigners are determined to use the Olympics to raise awareness and hope that support from athletes and international pressure may spark a change in legislation…(CONTINUED)