- Posted December 4, 2012 by
Songtan, South Korea
You Don't Want to Read This
Every conversation begins with the polite compulsory inquiry as to one’s current state: “How are you?” But no one ever really wants to know how you are. No one really wants to hear what is truly on your mind. They want you to smile politely back, give the standard answer “fine”, and be on your way. This is particularly true if what is always on your mind is something deeply disturbing and upsetting. “Please just keep it to yourself”, is what they are thinking. But keeping it to myself has been getting harder and harder to do.
The fact is I live in dog meat country. Not only do I live in South Korea, but I live in the heart of the dog meat industry. Our house is literary surrounded by dog farms. You can hear them all the time. Yelping and barking and crying. Koreans believe that when pain is inflicted on the dog a certain type of energy is released into the system which is transferred to the consumer of the meat. It is believed to endow the consumer with sexual potency and vitality. For this reason, when it is time to kill a dog, it is done in such a way as to inflict the most amount of pain possible on the animal. A common way to kill and torture these animals is to hang them by their necks and beat, burn and electrocute them to death. I can hear them, and if I leave my house, I can see them. They are all breeds and sizes. They look just like my dog and your dog. They live packed together in small boxes through the bitter, biting winters and the humid, scalding summers. They are forced to live in their own feces and are fed rotten table scraps of Korean food such as kimchi. Many of these animals are so malnourished they suffer from diseases such as rickets and their legs can barely hold them up. Dogs are slaughtered in plain sight of the other dogs and are often placed right on top of the kennels to bleed out. This happens about two million times a year here.
It gets worse. It’s legal. There is nothing that can be done about it, I am told. I can complain about the noise, and perhaps a police officer will be dispatched to look into it, but nothing will be done about the abuse and torture.
Now you may say “What about America? We treat our livestock pretty badly there too. Does anyone have the right to come in and tell us we have to shape up our meat industry?” I say “YES”. If they are contributing millions of dollars to our safety and our economy then YES. If they make trade agreements with us then YES. My tax money goes into the Korean economy and contributes to their ability to continue to torture animals. That is torture for me to think about. If you bother to look into the American meat industry at all, AT ALL, you would be horrified. It is horrible. I don’t support it. I am a vegetarian. If you bothered to look into the Korean dog meat industry it would haunt you. It is haunting.
But I have to smile and nod. I see my neighbors do the same. They don’t seem to have as much trouble as I do though. They seem to have the ability to block it all out. I try to do this too, but then I only feel worse. Ignorance is bliss, but I know.
Most people don’t know, and don’t want to know because it's much too upsetting. This simple fact ensures that this practice can go on unabated.