If you’ve been travelling before you’ve probably seen some weird traditions in and around food. Take the Brazilians for example. For a while, the population of capybara in their waters was so much larger than the fish population that they just ate that instead. They even got the Pope to validate the water rat as a species of fish so they could eat it during Catholic holidays.
That’s pretty weird, right? It turns out the further you go from America, the weirder the traditions get. Heck, Even the British across the pond do some weird stuff. You know they cut toast into tiny little rectangles and dip them into eggs?
Something that’s very weird, even disgusting to some, is the consumption of dog meat. A tradition that’s pretty common in the Far East. Today we look at South Korea and the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Almost all the dog meat restaurants in Pyeongchang, where the Winter Olympics opening ceremony being held today, have disregarded a government request to stop serving the food. South Koreans are believed to consume about one million dogs a year as a summertime delicacy. The greasy red meat is boiled for tenderness, and is believed to increase energy and health.
Activists in the area have launched several campaigns to ban dog consumption, with online petitions urging boycotts of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics over the issue and protests in Seoul.
Dog meat in the capital is officially classed as “detestable”, but the designation has no legal ramifications. South Korean authorities sporadically try to persuade restaurants to change their menus or drop signs suggestive of dog meat during international events hosted by the country.
The tradition has declined as the nation increasingly embraces the idea of dogs as pets instead of livestock, like we do in the West. Eating them now is something of a taboo among young South Koreans. Across the country and in the rest of Asia, “gaegogi” and other dog delicacies are eaten mostly by older people and is believed to have strengthening and medicinal properties.
Of the 12 restaurants serving dog meat dishes in the area, only two have complied with local authorities, who offered the subsidies in exchange for taking the item off the menu during the games, as reported by Channel News Asia.
In an effort to prepare for the Olympics and the influx of visitors that come with it, officials in Pyeongchang County have spent millions of dollars in an attempt to Westernize amenities in the area. This included providing foreign-language menus at restaurants and restrooms, kitchens and dining areas, in addition to asking them to halt serving dog meat.
Park Young-ae, a restaurateur whose restaurant is close to the Olympic stadium, says: “I have been selling dog meat for decades. It is really difficult for me to change my menu just because of the Olympics.”
A local government official said: “Some of them initially shifted to selling pork or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply. They then switched back to dog meat.” Hopefully, this issue and any more politics that doesn’t concern the Olympics, is dealt with quickly.