Ask a Korean: Do Koreans Like Pets?

Excuse me? Are you asking if Koreans eat pets?

Cuy, the other cute meat, Huaca Pucllana, January 2012

Brigitte Bardot, what are you doing to stop the slaughter of millions of cute, fluffy guinea pigs for dinner in Peru?!  But seriously, you know they’re eating our pets over there, right?

Yeah, I know she has a foundation for the humane treatment of animals, publicly abhorring the maltreatment of dogs and the killing of horses for their meat, and that’s all good but what about the guinea pigs?  It feels hypocritical to focus one’s indignation towards the abuse and killing of certain animals while remaining silent on the killing of others––chickens, cows, goats, pigs, songbirds, crickets, monkeys, eels, sharks, salmon, and bats are all being slaughtered as we speak…

“Like a chicken without a…”

We are so desensitized when it comes to animal-eating that we don’t think much about the headless animal in front of us. It’s just how we are. The meat that ends up on our plates doesn’t always resemble the animal it once was which makes it easy to forget what we’re eating––what part of the animal is a hot dog, anyways?

What part of the dog is it?

If I heard as much judgmental brouhaha over France’s boucheries chevelalines––horse meat butchers (apparently it’s popular in Japan too)––that I hear over Korea’s dog meat trade, I might be less cynical.  But in hiding behind the holier-than-thou cloak, sermonizing and demonizing the non-Western part of the hemisphere on social and cultural issues, sometimes the West leads the way in Tiresome 101.  I say that if Americans are okay with eating smart, wonderful, friendly piglets, then Koreans can feel okay about eating dogs.

Relax, it’s just prime rib

However, I do contend that producers of meat who mistreat their animals are despicable and, as a consumer, I have a duty to boycott them by supporting farmers who raise and kill their animals conscientiously––no tormenting and keeping them in tiny cages, pumping them full of hormones and antibiotics.  Meat eaters, en masse, voicing their concern about what happened to their meat before it got to them––small humane farm vs. the meat industrial complex––could send a clear message to the powers that be to clean up their act.   Carnivores can do some legwork if they’re going to keep eating animals.

It’s a choice that we make to have animals in our lives, so it’s up to us to decide how that will go.  Yes, we parse the value of animals by putting them into hierarchies for our affection and consideration, but that’s just a short-lived argument between your stomach and sense of right and wrong.

           Have a cat? Feed him, love him.  Eat animals? Feed them, love them.

Leo, the other cute meat

Philip Levine knows what I’m talking about:

In my dreams
the snouts drool on the marble,
suffering children, suffering flies,

suffering the consumers
who won’t meet their steady eyes
for fear they could see.

excerpted from Animals Are Passing from our Lives


3 thoughts on “Ask a Korean: Do Koreans Like Pets?

  1. Pingback: Cats ‘R Us | DIY Korean Food

  2. Pingback: Lite Men & Potatoes | DIY Korean Food

  3. Many compassionate folks are speaking out about the consumption of any and all animal species, not only dogs. While horses are wonderful animals who provide us transportation and are great animal companion when room to keep them allows and domestic cats are comforting companions who protect against rodents that might spread illnesses, dogs are exceptional animals. Dogs guard our homes, watch over and protect our families, detect bombs and contraband in airports and other public places, assist our military and police forces, guide blind people in the streets, detect blood sugar levels in diabetics, seizures in epileptics and cancers in humans. How could it be that these indispensable animals that have helped shape western civilization are merely regarded as just something to mistreat and consume without a thought to the character and loyalty one can see if they just stop to look into their eyes?

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