On Friday September 22nd, we held a counter-protest in Gwanghwamun, Seoul against the Korean Dog Meat Traders Association who were demonstrating to have dog meat and dog farming legalized.
The day started with the emotions and tensions high between the members of the Korean Dog Meat Traders Association, and individual activists and CARE, and there seemed to be more police in attendance than protesters.
The Korean Dog Meat Traders Association had brought nine dog meat dogs in cages on three trucks. They pointed to them claiming that dogs raised for consumption were somehow different than companion dogs. “These dogs are meant to be eaten.” they shouted without ever explaining how the dogs were different.
The dogs in the cages seemed to be stressed by the loud music, the shouts and singing of the dog meat farmers coming from the loudspeakers, and the heat of the day. They had little water and no food all day that we could see. Some lay and warily watched the crowd, others turned around and around in the tiny cages.
The Korean Dog Meat Traders Association speakers hurled criticism at Chang Won Pyo and and Jeong Mi Lee, both members of the National Assembly, for recently tabling a bill that would outlaw the eating of dog meat. Furthermore, they also criticized president Moon Jae-In for adopting Tori, the dog rescued by us from imminent slaughter, claiming that this is false, and that it was just a publicity stunt.
Between 250 and 500—depending on who you talk to—members of the Korean Dog Meat Traders Association marched from Gwanghwamun to the Blue House—the official residence of the President of South Korea—with three trucks carrying the nine dogs they brought with them. They attempted to leave bags of dog food for President Moon and Tori, but unfortunately for them, the gift was rejected.
By the time the Korean Dog Meat Traders Association were approaching the Blue House, the police were keeping them and the anti-dog meat protesters separated, having been caught off guard earlier when CARE activists managed to get close to the dog meat farmers with a flash protest. They were not allowing any counter-protesters to get close to the gates of the Blue House. CARE and the other protesters had to be content with holding placards demanding they “STOP THE KILLING”, and a “Dog Meat Free Korea.”
The protest and counter protests were largely peaceful, but minor scuffles involving little more than pushing and shoving erupted when activists tried to get closer to the dog meat farmers—as with the flash protest above—and the dogs in the cages, and when CARE attempted to disrupt the Korean Dog Meat Traders Association march.
The whole of the unprecedented protest by the Korean Dog Meat Traders Association, and the counter-protest, was live streamed on CARE’s English and Korean Facebook pages, and have so far garnered tens of thousands of views and hundreds of reactions and comments from around the world.
The mistreatment of dogs on dog meat farms and the consumption of animals that most of the world regards as companions is a global issue, and it appears that the world is watching what goes on in South Korea.