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Round eye lady do not understeand ancient way ----------------------------------
South Koreans Defend Their Canine Cuisine
Howard W. French, New York Times Service Wednesday, December 12, 2001
As Seoul Prepares for Soccer World Cup, a Debate Is Unleashed Over Dog Meat SEOUL There are those who say that dogs are man's best friend, but Lee Mi Kyoung, owner of a restaurant in one of this glittering and frenetic city's upper-middle-class neighborhoods, has other ideas.
At Sangdari, there are four main dishes on the menu, and all of them are built around stout helpings of dog. And for the life of her, Miss Lee does not understand all the fuss that has been raised about dog-eating - mostly outside South Korea - as this country prepares to be co-host to the World Cup soccer competition in May.
"Maybe the reason so many objections are being raised is that people think we are eating pets," said the prim 37-year-old restaurateur, whose specialty is far from a novelty in this capital.
"The fact is that we serve dogs which were raised for eating. Don't people understand that the culture of pets is a very recent arrival in Korea?"
To describe the collision of viewpoints about dog eating as a misunderstanding probably ranks as the understatement of the season in this proud and fast-modernizing country.
With everyone from animal rights activists to the leaders of the international soccer organization, FIFA, condemning dog consumption, even the South Korean media have begun to speak of a "clash of civilizations."
But to calls by Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, to "immediately and decisively terminate" the practice, and threats by the likes of the French former actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot to organize boycotts of Korea, many Koreans are answering a defiant phooey.
"Sometimes we become a little obsessed with the feelings of Westerners who try to lecture us on values, and regard others as barbarians," said Kim Dong Soo, a 52-year-old diner, who sat on the restaurant's shiny pine floors and ate, together with two friends, from a hot pot steaming with dog meat stew. "But who are they to lecture us? We have 5,000 years of history, and dog eating is part of our culture."
Among the various rebuttals of foreign criticism, arguments reaching far back into history - an obsession in this country - seem to be the most common.
"In stock-raising Europe, dogs could become men's best friends as hunting assistants," read an editorial in the Korea Herald this week. "In agrarian Asia, oxen were the No. 1 property in most families as farming aides. Pigs came second as big suppliers of fat and protein. But dogs had little use except guarding houses, which was mostly unnecessary in ancient Korean villages of the same clans."
Under the grim yet inadvertently humorous headline, "Not all dogs are meant to be eaten," an editorialist in the JoongAng Ilbo, a leading Seoul newspaper, compared cultural attitudes toward dogs: "In the Western cultural code, dogs come close to being thought of as human beings. In Confucian culture, where hierarchy is valued, however close human beings and dogs may be, at no point are they considered even remotely equal. This is why fully grown dogs can play around in living rooms in the West, whereas they never come inside the house in Confucian countries like Korea."
Indeed, to hear the owner of Sangdari explain it, dogs that Westerners think of as pets and those that Koreans think of as food are virtually two different species.
"Ours are kind of big, yellowish dogs," Miss Lee said, smiling as she patiently explained things. "In Korean we call them junk dogs, and we get them from special ranches. The problem is that it is illegal to kill them. Luckily the government turns a blind eye."
South Korea is far from the only country that eats dogs. They are a delicacy in China, as well, and are eaten in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Then again, in some Asian countries, notably in Japan, which ruled Korea for 35 years early last century, the practice is seen as repugnant. One of Tokyo's most famous landmarks is the statue of a legendarily loyal dog, Hachiko, which sits at Shibuya Crossing.
In a situation reminiscent of Korea's, though, the Japanese have been embroiled in a controversy for years over whale eating, which is also denounced as inhumane by many in the West.
"Anyone can tell you that eating dog meat is the healthiest thing you can do," said Park Gye Dong, a rugged looking 54, who ate at the table of three buddies, constantly tending the stew. "The Chinese wrote about its healing powers 3,000 years ago in their medical texts, and even now doctors tell patients who are recuperating from operations to eat dog meat in order to recover quickly. I would eat it much more often myself if I could only afford it, but it's a little expensive."
The other source of popularity for dog meat in Korea and throughout much of this region is its reputed ability to provide relief from extreme heat - during the dog days.
Restaurants like Sangdari are packed in the summertime. The World Cup ends June 30, by the way, just as Korea's weather begins to really heat up.
At the mention of hot weather, the most volatile of the three friends, Mr. Kim, turned away from a round of toasts of Soju, a fiery liquor, to engage a foreign visitor. "The French eat horses, but we give them a decent burial," he said. "Others eat cats, but we treat cats well. Koreans are not lecturing other cultures on how to live, so please tell them to leave us alone."
-- (Park Gye Dong@Seoul.South Korea), December 11, 2001
One more example of Western cultrural imperialism
-- (UBL @ cave.HQ), December 11, 2001.
Well I guess I won't be going there...
Runnin' from the crazy with a big knife... (YIPE!)
-- The Dog (email@example.com), December 12, 2001.