It comes just a few days after the sickening Chinese festival that goes by the name of Yulin, where nearly 10,000 dogs and 4,000 cats are slaughtered:South Korea is preparing to celebrateBok Nal, a three-day "festival" where dog meat consumption is "normal".
This year, the heartbreaking celebration will take place on July 17 and 27, as well as August 16.The festival is usually held on the three hottest days of the year, since popular belief states that eating dog meat cleanses the system and lowersblood pressure.
70% of dog meat consumed over the year is eaten in the summer
More than 3 million dogs are bred in South Korea every year on dog meat farms. These dogs are all intended for human consumption.
According to the Humane Society International (HSI), which has been fighting for many years now to save as many animals as possible, about 70% ofthe dog meat eaten over the course of the year is consumed during the two summer months, most significantly at theBok Nal festival.
The dogs to be eaten atBok Nal are bred and slaughtered in truly shocking conditions, just like in Yulin.HSI explains:
An estimated 2.5-3 million dogs endure extreme deprivation on these farms every year, confined their whole lives in small, barren wire cages without any comfort or proper care, until the day they are killed, usually by electrocution.
Many dogs are hanged or beaten to death because traders believe the adrenaline will make the meat more tender.
Though dogs are bred all year round, traders usually wait forBok Nal to sell them as prices typically go through the roof during this period.A large dog can be sold for up to £120 euros. The dog meat is bought mainly by the thousands of restaurants for use inBoshintang, a popular dog meat stew which is sold for just £3-6.
A little known festival with less opposition than Yulin
The problem withBok Nal is that unlike Yulin, it's a very little known festival which has never attracted a similar kind ofinternational outrage.Without this important media attention, it's much more difficult for animal rights groups and lobbyists to change mindsets and save the animals.In addition, it's not a case of a one-off event organised over the course of a few days: it's spread over the whole of the summer season.
Wendy Higgins, international media directorat HSI, explains to The Dodo:
Unlike the infamous Yulin dog meat festival in China that we campaign to close down, Bok Nal isn't a single event so it's less a matter of 'banning' a festival and more about changing hearts and minds and habits during this time of the year.
For some years now, Humane Society International has been working in South Korea to put an end to this disgusting industry.Just recently, they organised for 171 dogs to be rescued a few weeks before Bok Nal begins. These dogs will be put up for adoption in the US and Canada.
The organisation has been working to develop programmes to help dog meat traders gain their living by another means.After all, the consumption of dog meat is increasingly unpopular with the younger generation, which is heavily influenced by western culture.
In our experience, many dog meat farmers are keen to leave this business behind them, and come under increasing pressure from their children to end dog breeding and killing.However, they need help in transitioning to an alternative living, so that’s where HSI steps in. Ultimately we need the South Korean government to get involved in phasing out dog farming and banning dog eating, and with the Winter Olympics coming up in Pyeongchang in 2018, we are urging politicians to work with us to consign the eating of dogs to the history books.