Korean Dog Eating Tradition
The Korean practice of eating dog meat has always been considered a peculiar tradition by foreigners. In recent years, this tradition has come under increasing pressure from animal rights activists, including Bridget Bardot, who wish to see the practice outlawed altogether by the South Korean government. This controversy came to a head in 2002, when activists convinced FIFA to put pressure on South Korea, the co-host of the World Cup, to ban dog meat. William Saletan discusses this controversy in his article ?Wok the Dog,? in which he makes an interesting and well crafted argument supporting the Korean practice. In this article, Saletan effectively deconstructs the opposing arguments and makes the strong counter-point on logical, moral, and emotional grounds, that the movement to outlaw dog meat in South Korea has an undercurrent of cultural arrogance and even racism.
The strongest argument against the dog meat industry centers on the treatment of the dogs that are often killed by ?beating, strangling, [and] boiling? instead of more humane methods such as electrocution. Unnecessary cruelty against animals is universally considered wrong, and is in many cases illegal, and that is what makes this argument effective. Saletan addresses this argument logically, with the simple fact that in the interest of humane treatment of dogs ?South Korean lawmakers are proposing to legalize, license, and regulate the industry.? This simple fact exposes a fundamental hypocrisy within the opposing viewpoint. Saletan argues that it is the same activists who base their arguments on ending cruelty against dogs who are trying to keep new, more humane methods from being adopted. The activists condemn and deplore cruel treatment of dogs, but when given the opportunity to see humane treatment of dogs become institutionalized, they reject it. He supports this argument with a statement from the Korea Animal Protection Society, which was backed by FIFA, attacking the decision of the South Korean legislature by stating that ?[South Korean officials] think it would be okay as long as dogs are not killed in a cruel manner.? In effect, Saletan illustrates how the anti-dog-meat activists negate their own strongest argument.
Another argument that Saletan deconstructs is that dogs share a special bond with humans, as ?friends, not animals? and thus it would be immoral to kill these companions. This argument is furthered by Bridget Bardot with her claim that ?Cows are grown to be eaten, dogs are not.? Saletan attacks the accuracy of this argument, as well as the validity of its premise, using simple facts and logical reasoning. If it is morally wrong to kill companions, but morally justified to kill livestock, he argues, then the Korean dog meat industry should not be a problem because ?in Korea, until recently, dogs haven?t been pets.? Saletan goes on to explain that the modern Korean culture views dogs as belonging to two separate grades,...