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Do Koreans Eat Dogs? (The Shocking Facts!)

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

If you visit South Korea, there will be many interesting dishes on the menu. One story that has been going around for years is that dog meat is used in some dishes. This is horrifying news to people from North America and Europe because dogs are considered our friends. Do Koreans eat dogs?

Koreans do eat dog meat. However, this is an old practice that isn’t as common in today’s age. The majority of people in Korea’s modern society don’t approve of eating dog meat.

While this may be a subject you are uncomfortable approaching, it’s something that’s very real. On this page, we’re going to discuss if it’s common practice to cook and eat dog meat in Korea. Keep reading to learn more. 

Do Koreans Eat Dogs?

While we gave you the short answer above, we want to go into more depth about it here. It has been common throughout history for dog meat to be consumed by people in Korea. The most recent survey taken on the subject showed that only 3.9 % of Koreans still eat dog meat

Dog meat started becoming frowned at by a lot of Koreans in the 1980s and 1990s, with even more of the population being against it today. Western culture, especially American, has always had a big influence on South Korea. Since Americans view dogs as their pets and friends, many people in Korea followed suit and began to understand why westerners love canines so much.

Why Do Koreans Eat Dog Meat?

Dog meat has been a part of Korea’s culture for over thousands of years. While this meat isn’t considered a delicacy, it does serve a purpose. The main reasons why dog meat was eaten in Korea had to do with the nation’s economy and the belief that dog meat enhanced a man’s virility. 

The Nation Needed a Food Source

Going back through the history of Korea, there were a few events that left the economy in very bad shape.

  • The Korean War
  • World War II
  • Japanese occupation of Korea (1910 to 1945)

These events left the nation on the brink of starvation. The people turned to dog meat as a way to feed themselves and their families. This is also a big part of the reason why dog meat is less common now in Korea. The nation is now wealthier and can afford better sources of food for the population.

Spiritual Belief

Boknal Days is a festival celebrated during the hottest days of the year, in July and August. During this time, a soup called boshintang is consumed. This soup has dog meat in it and men will consume it because they believe it will enhance their virility. During this festival is when approximately 70 to 80 % of dog meat in Korea is consumed.

This is a common misconception, that’s generally only believed by Koreans from older generations. They believe that dog meat will make them more powerful by increasing their strength, energy, and sex drive. However, there is no evidence to suggest it’s true. 

Will I Be Served Dog Meat If I Travel To Korea?

When you travel to a different country, you should always be open to trying different foods that you typically wouldn’t be served at home. That begin said, you’re not being insulting to Korea’s culture if you’re disgusted by the thought of eating dog meat. In fact, over 51.5 million people in South Korea are just as disgusted by the idea of eating dogs as you probably are.

If you’re ordering a meal from a restaurant in Korea, you may not know what a lot of the dishes are. This shouldn’t stop you from trying them. It’s very unlikely that they will contain traces of dog meat. For example, in Seoul, there are over 520,000 restaurants. Currently, there are fewer than a hundred restaurants with dog meat on the menu and that number continues to shrink. 

Many restaurants that still include dog meat on the menu are also considering removing it. This is because the consumption of dog meat declines more and more each year. At this rate, it’s costing restaurant owners too much money to include it on their menus. 

Why Are Some Koreans Against Dog Meat?

Even though eating dog meat has been a part of Korean culture for over thousands of years, the majority of the population is against it. This is especially true among the younger generation. Although many adults in Korea have tried dog meat at one point, a lot of them have come to regret it. In today’s age, nearly half of the Koren population has never tried dog meat.

There are a few concerns that many people in Korea have when it comes to dog farms and dog meat. The main one is that they love dogs. As they’ve become more familiar with the animal, they’ve realized what great companions they are. Many Koreans even keep dogs as companion pets. 

The next concern that many people in Korea (and other parts of the world) have regarding dog farms is cruelty. These farms have inhumane living standards for the dogs and treat them very cruelly. A lot of people in Korea also worry about the hygiene of dog farms. These farms don’t have the same level of hygiene standards as other food farms in the nation. 

Is Eating Dogs Legal In Korea?

The president of South Korea has talked about putting an end to eating dog meat. In November of 2021, it was announced that there was a task force looking into the situation. At the beginning of 2022, a member of the council proposed an outlaw to ban dog meat consumption to the mayor. This is a big step forward in putting an end to dog meat farms. 

If the bill is passed, it will promote a more dog-friendly culture throughout Korea. This bill will impose the law that it is illegal to kill dogs for consumption. 

While this bill won’t stop the Boknal festival, it will change how traditional are viewed. There is no intention to put an end to a festival that has been a part of Korea’s culture for many decades. Instead, the new bill will change what type of soup is being served. The country now has access to more healthy food sources, so they don’t need to eat companion animals. 

Final Thoughts

So after all, Eating dogs in Korea is no longer as common as it once was. Over 1000 years ago when the nation was on the brink of starvation, the population turned to dog meat to survive. Today, the country has more food sources, so dog meat is not widely consumed. Less than 100 restaurants in Seoul still serve it, with that number dwindling each day.

Younger generations of Koreans are repulsed by the idea of eating dog meat. Nearly half of the population as of 2022 has never even tried dog meat. A large portion of the people that have tried it grew to regret it afterward. More Koreans today have dogs as companion pets and are strongly against eating dog meat. The nation is even working on a bill to hopefully outlaw it.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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