, Research Paper
“Does Korean plan to serve Boshintang soup for the visitors to Seoul during the World Cup tournament?”
This is one question from an American to Korean English newspaper last month, condemning Koreans for eating dog as cruel abuse to animal. Some of the Western media treat Koreans as savages for eating dog meat and put it on the air as a most intriguing piece of news. As well, many international people who know something of Korea or visit to Korea always ask about this dog-eating. And then, how should we react to this issue? Should we scold them back for lacking of understanding others? Or should we really feel embarrassed about this old part of our culture and throw away like old shoes? Boshintang is apparently our traditional food habit, which can be irrational and not easy to understand for foreigners. But whenever Koreans were heard criticism or asked about it, most of them could not defend themselves or answer the question logically. We have to know that it is our responsibility to inform them the right view of thinking. I am here now to give some interesting informations about our eating habit to look at it in a new light.
What we eat or not is patterned by culture. Some eating habits may seem disgusting to others who don’t share the same culture. A sense of cultural superiority is wrong because every culture is a specialized adaptation of environment. Korea is very cold during the winter, so it was difficult to raise cattle a long time ago. Besides, bullocks were the essential farming animals that pull plows and carts. As a result, generally eating beef in Korea was very uncommon to people. So Korean started to raise dogs which grew well even in the cold weather and without special food or care to obtain insufficient nutrition.
Many westerners think that dogs have been bred for centuries to be man’s best friends or even family, and not to be livestock. But Korean concept of dog is very different. There are distinct differences between human and animal in Korea. Many Koreans even don’t like living with any animal under the same roof of the house and get them their own home outside. As well, the family relationship has been very strong in Korea, so they don’t treat dogs as pets in the western way. That’s why Koreans do not have much affection for dogs, which is usually given to eat leftovers and manure traditionally.
There is also misconception to be fixed up about this dog-eating among Koreans. According to some scientific research, dog meat contains enzymes to help our digestion, and this is why eating the meat is good for our health. And from the long time ago, dog meat was used with herbs as medicine. So dog meat was recognized as a special energy-giving food. But there is nothing with sexual vigor as people believe.
At this time, Korea is not a small land of the Morning Calm any more. It has become a dynamic and modern country that is taking its important place in the world. More and more the international press and people are giving attentions to it. Telling them about us correctly is stressed right now to lead them to the better understanding of us. After all, the good image of Korea will be the very benefit of us. So, even though it is a small thing, getting to know better about this food habit is actually very important for us.