[FOUNTAIN]Don't dwell on dog controversy"At first, I thought Germans gave birth to dogs, not children. Numerous people have dogs and carry them around in their arms. Dogs and cats live like kings in Germany."
The above is from a poem, "Germans in Germany," which was written by a Moroccan, Mustafa Al-Haija. The piece is also contained in textbooks. Germans' dedication to pets must have seemed strange.
Germans' affection for dogs may also seem exceptional to us. They always take dogs with them whether on buses or in restaurants. Many of them even sleep with dogs as big as calves on the same bed. Dogs are family to them.
When I see homeless people begging on the street with dogs beside them, I feel like saying, "These homeless, who cannot even feed themselves, own dogs."
Dogs in Germany are rather gentle, maybe because they are well trained and loved very much. They do not bark at or attack people. Although dog-owners promise that their dogs do not bite, when big dogs stare, anyone would feel scared.
Germans have formulated a national policy that mandates protection of animals. Not long ago, the German Bundestag passed an amendment by an overwhelming majority that adds animal protection to the German constitution. The new constitution stipulates that the nation should protect the natural living environment and animals for future generations. Germany is the first country in Europe to clearly state the rights of animals in the constitution.
I am describing the protection of animals in Germany, especially their love of dogs, because of the ongoing controversy in Korea over eating dog meat. As the World Cup games begin in Korea, the controversy over eating dogs is expected to flare. Just a few days ago, Brigitte Bardot, a French actress, criticized Korean culture again for the practice of eating dog meat. A dog meat restaurant in Anyang recently invited the French soccer team to taste soup made from dog meat. The two sides are apparently rearranging the line of battle.
However, no matter how much we try to persuade foreigners that dog meat is good for health and a traditional and tasty food, it is impossible to change their perception. Telling those who consider dogs as a part of their family that criticizing our culture for eating dog meat is cultural imperialism will only cause loathing. Don't spoil the World Cup games by treating visitors to free dog meat. Besides dog meat, there is much of our cultural heritage to show our visitors.
The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yoo Jae-sik