[EDITORIALS]Tell the Truth About Eating Dogs

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[EDITORIALS]Tell the Truth About Eating Dogs

As the 2002 World Cup games draw near, the overseas press has again stirred up controversy about Koreans' custom of raising dogs for food. The New York affiliate of Warner Brothers television network aired a telltale report, and France 2 television network also poked fun at the Korean custom. The Financial Times, a British daily newspaper, passed judgment on the butchery of dogs for eating in Korea. Major press companies in Britain are raising a similar hue and cry.

The Korean government has not mounted a firm defense of the custom for fear that it would only irritate the foreign press and strengthen the alliance of anti-dog-eaters. But the government should change its attitude and actively spread correct information on the custom. If the government takes no action, Korea may never shed its negative image, formed by distorted information, as a savage nation. It is fortunate that not every foreign media outlet is passing judgment on Korea. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the leading newspapers in Germany, and the Asahi Shimbun of Japan officially came out in support of Koreans eating dog meat and said that the variety of cultures should be respected.

Eating dog meat is a firmly rooted custom in Korea, and about half of Koreans - it may differ by sex - have tasted it. There is an old saying that the taste for food is the most resistant to change among the five senses. Dog meat should not be an exception in providing foreigners with correct knowledge on Korean dishes. How to harmonize the universality and the distinctiveness of cultures should be widely publicized.

Overseas Korean cultural centers should actively promote the fact that the custom of eating dogs has been practiced for a long time in Korean agrarian society, that dogs for pets and for meat are raised separately and that Koreans never eat their pets. They should also publicize that Chinese consume dog meat also, that Korean dogs are electrocuted when they are butchered and that there are actually few enthusiasts for dog meat in Korea. Giving foreigners correct knowledge is more effective than making excuses for the custom.

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