The Dog Farm

By David S. Wills

Memoir

One dark, grey and thoroughly depressing Sunday afternoon, after a heavy bout of soju-swilling in the tight confines of the apartment, Min Jung suggested we go out for lunch. I could tell she wanted to dress up and point her tits at other people. She liked flaunting her beauty, particularly at people she hated, and she hated most Korean people – especially the ones that reminded her of her parents. Sometimes she got a look in her eye that said that for whatever reason she wasn’t entirely happy but that she was feeling confident in herself, and just wanted to dress up nice and let people know that she was hot. Also, I think she liked showing people that she had a foreigner for a boyfriend – not because she was proud, necessarily, but because she liked to rebel. Probably there was no great difference in her mind between wearing a skirt that barely covered her snatch and holding my hand in public.

“What you want eat?” she asked.

“You,” I replied with a stupid grin, but she didn’t get it.

“Do you know boshintang?” She thought for a while, trying to gather the English words. “… Dog meat soup?”

I laughed, then stopped. She was serious. “Huh?”

“Dog meat soup. Do you know?”

“Really? Yeah, I guess. I’ve heard of it…”

“Did you eat?”

“No, I’ve not tried it.”

“It famous Korean food. Very tradition.”

“So I’ve heard…”

“You want eat?”

I thought about it. On the surface, it really didn’t seem like the worst idea. Why was it worse to eat dog than, say, pig or cow? Just because my Western heritage caused me some affinity for dogs didn’t make them any more valuable an animal than those we considered food in the West. Perhaps I was being ethnocentric and close-minded in my unreasonable championing of one sentient being over another. Hell, there were vegetarians and vegans around the globe who’d call me a savage just for eating beef.

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll try it.”

***

We took a taxi from outside the fire station and travelled through the city for a while until we were in an area of countryside. The land was flat, with few trees around and only the mountains and grey, identical tower blocks in the distance. Farmland stretched out in every direction – fields of yellow and green, growing mostly rice. Every now and then a little road would split a field, and old people in conical hats on bikes would cycle back and forth. Strangely, it didn’t feel that far from the city. Daegu always felt like a village that had grown too big too fast – a ramshackle cluster of giant, ugly buildings that had sprung from the dung heaps of a farm, with its inhabitants maintaining the exact same mountainfolk behaviour they had before 7-Eleven and Starbucks had invaded.

We stopped outside a little building surrounded by yellow mud walls and grey slate roof. There were expensive cars stopped all along the road, a few bushes and trees separating them from the fields. Min Jung paid the driver and we stepped out.

As soon as I put my foot on the dust at the side of the road I wanted to get back in the car. The hairs on the back of my neck rose and shivers shot up and down my spine as I was assaulted by the most repugnant of sounds and smells.

The sound of a dog slowly dying is something that should never be heard. It is a sound far worse than any midnight howl or terrified yelp – a high-pitched screech that strikes some primal nerve, uniting human and beast in a shared memory; the realisation that we are all living beings and should never be subject to such barbaric savagery. These wretched beasts were being dragged slowly to their demise.

I felt like my eardrums were about to burst and start bleeding. The jarring screech just rose and fell, but remained in the air. There were three dogs, I think, dying. I couldn’t tell what was happening but they were in unspeakable agony. That was a sound I had imagined hearing if a person were tied down and tortured mercilessly for hours – a helpless, hopeless and utterly sorrowful expression of pain.

What struck me aside from the sound was the smell of death and pain lingering in the air. It was the stench of dog faeces and some strange odour I could only describe as that of departing life mixed with the ever present reek of kimchi-fart, Hyundai-generated pollution and the fertiliser that swept in off the fields.

What kind of depraved savage could eat in a place like this? What monster could listen to their dinner die the worst kind of death, talking with their kin, swilling soju, and waiting for a good old family meal? I felt sick imagining the scum inside. I was at the gates of hell, and hell was a dog farm.

“Babe, I’m not ok with this…” I said sheepishly.

She laughed and walked inside as the taxi pulled a U-turn and sped off back towards the city, leaving us in this place of death. “Come on.”

I slowly followed, looking around in disgust. I kept expecting to see, well, anything… Human corpses rotting on the ground, blood spilling from cracked kimchi pots made of dried dog shit, old men and women cannibalising each other, babies being raped to death… Nothing would have surprised me. The sounds and smells of the dog farm were a fair warning for any horror.

All I could see was chicken wire everywhere to keep the dogs from escaping, were they ever to get out of their tiny cages, which were stacked in piles above thousands of chunks of dried shit. The dogs were thankfully around back, out of sight. I don’t think I could have stood to see their suffering in addition to hearing and smelling it.

***

Inside, the place was no different from any Korean restaurant. Families sat around tiny tables, cross-legged on the floor – the men with their cheap suit jackets to one side, revealing sweaty pit-stains and potbellies protruding from between the buttons on their tacky shirts, ties swung over their shoulders and looks of gross satisfaction on their stuffed faces as they listened to the sounds of the dogs dying as the meat already began to rot in their gut… Women covering their snatches with cheap knock-off handbags as their skirts rose over their hips, trying to maintain their dignity while coughing and spluttering bits of food back onto the table without noticing, never mind trying to cover their mouths… Their children running amuck amid the sounds and smells of death, ignorant of the suffering of anything but themselves as they played their violent games… A beautiful family dinner at the dog farm.

They all turned and stared at me, of course, as I stood awkwardly behind Min Jung, who was asking the proprietor for a table. I looked at my feet and tried to block out the sound, which had not diminished since we entered the building. I was wondering how to back out and go somewhere else. I didn’t want these primitives to have my money, or rather Min Jung’s money. I was broke.

Min Jung took off her shoes and walked over to a table in one corner of the room and carefully sat down, placing her handbag over her snatch, which was otherwise left utterly exposed by the combination of short skirt and sitting cross-legged. I walked around and sat with my back to the wall, which I hated because it meant I had to sit and be stared at by the natives. Also, it meant I had to look back in their direction and watch their foul table manners as they spat and coughed at each other, and fingered their food with their dirty, unwashed hands.

“I so hungry!” Min Jung cried, then giggled and clapped her hands inanely. “Boshintang! Dogmeatsoup!”

“Babe, seriously?”

“Why you always sad? Just eat.”

“You can’t hear that?” I asked.

“What?”

“That!” I shouted. “Dogs being killed!”

She stopped and listened, smiling the whole time – unaware of any suffering. “You eat pig, right?”

“Not when I can hear them die.”

“They are not die. They are make ready to die. They die quiet.”

I said I didn’t understand.

“They make dog ready to eat many time. Dog is…” She stopped and searched for the right word. “Hanging. They hanging the dog to eat.”

“You don’t see anything wrong with that?”

“It make dog taste good.”

“But they’re torturing an innocent animal. They’re hanging it to make it taste better. That’s stupid.”

“You stupid.” Min Jung looked annoyed for the first time since she first suggested dog meat soup. “Why you never want do Korean culture? It better than England culture.”

“I’m not from England, you fucking whore!”

“Fuck you! In Korea England and Scotland same. We no say different.”

“That’s because you’re all fucking idiots.”

“Shut up!”

“At least we don’t eat dogs like a bunch of primitive degenerate pigfuckers!”

“Korea food number one food!”

I stopped and stared at her. Jesus, she was stupid. Was this the same girl I’d met in Japan? The girl who’d known Korea’s flaws? She was no different than the rest of the drones – an ignorant nationalist savage.

“I’m not eating any goddamn dog meat,” I said.

“Fine, you don’t eating any. I eat all dog meat soup!”

“I hope you choke.”

“What?”

“I said, ‘Give me the keys, I’m going home.’”

Min Jung laughed and tossed the apartment keys at me. “I know you no have money. No taxi! Nice time walking!”

She made a scrunched up face of childish contempt at me as I stood up and walked towards the door. Naturally, every Korean in the building turned and stared at me as I left, either too mentally degenerate to realise that staring isn’t even polite in their own culture or too vicious to care.

As I looked back at Min Jung I realised that she hadn’t expected me to actually leave. Eating alone in Korea is a terribly shameful thing. She was probably hoping I’d come back. She didn’t think I was dumb enough to walk all the way back into the city, but she was wrong.

TAGS: , , , , ,

DAVID WILLS is the managing editor of Beatdom Magazine, and the author of The Dog Farm and Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'. You can learn more about him on his website.

121 responses to “The Dog Farm”

  1. I think it’s important to note before any commenting begins that not everyone in Korea eats dog meat. It is, however, a big problem. It is more common than many would care to admit, and more disgusting than most are willing to acknowledge.

    There are some people in Korea who are dedicated to stopping this barbaric practice, and if you have a strong enough stomach please consider taking a look at this website: http://www.koreananimals.org/animals/dogs.htm

  2. Greg Olear says:

    This is a fantastic post, perhaps your best ever. Just the right tone.

    Love the way you describe her in the opening graf.

    Frankly, I’ve been waiting for you to tackle this subject, or at least wondering if it would come up. It’s like writing dispatches from New York — sooner or later, you’re going to mention the taxicabs.

    Hanging them makes them taste better. Jesus.

    • Thanks, Greg. It’s actually been written for a long time. I was waiting for the right time to post. Every time I wanted to post I looked and saw a great post that I didn’t want to knock off the front page… But I figured I’d just go for it.

      I think I mentioned dogs briefly in an old post, but it was just a passing reference. It’s not a subject people really talk about here. It’s like the national shame – they like to pretend it doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t help the problem to disappear.

      On the link I provided it says that the “dog-eaters” hold a lot of political power… I think ever country has a national shame that is largely maintained by political pandering.

      • Greg Olear says:

        We Americans wouldn’t know about a national shame, as we have two. Slavery and genocide, take your pick.

        • Yeah… There’s quite a few moments in the US history books that people would love to sweep under the carpet.

        • Ducky Wilson says:

          I’m looking at my dog sleep on my bed. She has her squeaker toy under her chin. I keep hearing those howls – the sounds of a dog hanging. It’s too much for me.

          But thank you for making me aware. I thought this was an exaggerated myth.

        • Ducky – I wrote this sitting next to my two cats, and I read about this stuff sitting next to them, too. It’s a lot to handle. To think that people could treat any animal like that…

          It’s an exaggerated myth in the fact that some people think “all Koreans eat dog.” That’s not fair, but lots do and it shouldn’t be ignored.

    • Lenore says:

      absolutely agree with greg here, david. “dress up and point her tits” is a great great great opening. i love it.

  3. Irene Zion says:

    David,

    I am so very proud of you for leaving and walking home all that way.

    This is heartbreaking.

  4. Anon says:

    I’m already in a foul mood this morning and reading this did not help, except for your display of integrity. Bravo, sir.

    I’m weird and have been mocked a few times for my standards. I hunt for what meat I can but won’t take a shot unless I know it’s a guaranteed DRT (dead right there) opportunity. I have helped a farmer clear out a prairie dog colony on his property but have almost caused car accidents avoiding them in the street. I’ll spend the time finding and shooting rabbits in season rather than trapping them because, again, I control the DRT factor instead of leaving them to strangle. Death is inevitable but it shouldn’t be without purpose and I detest causing animals fear and pain.

    Hanging makes them taste better. Just thinking about that makes me want to do bad things.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Me too, Anon.

    • Becky says:

      “Death is inevitable but it shouldn’t be without purpose and I detest causing animals fear and pain.”

      Well said, snowman-shaped silhouette.

      • Anon says:

        Thank you. Now, does my shady background make me look fat? Be honest!

        • Becky says:

          Positively rotund. I can’t lie. Not your most flattering look. You might try going with something more in the manner of a men’s or (women’s as the case may be) bathroom symbol.

        • Anon says:

          Sigh. I was afraid of that. I’ve really let myself go since my stick-figure days. That’s it! I’m hitting the gym!

        • Becky says:

          Opening half of the parentheses appear to have missed its cue. DO IT AGAIN!

          *(or women’s as the case may be)*

          Thank you.

        • Becky says:

          Appears, you dropped your S. Good grief.

          I can’t work in these conditions.

        • Anon says:

          It’s perfectly okay, Becky. I average about five usually-broken hours of sleep a night (young kids), I grew up around several relatives who only spoke broken English and I tend to zone out at work meetings (a horrifically frequent occurrence). I have quite the talent at working with garbled communications and picking up inferences.

        • Anon says:

          Ah, much better. No more snowman shape.

        • Becky says:

          I still see a snowman.

        • Anon says:

          What the hell…? It’s the Gravatar.com Diet! Actually, I see a skinny snowman here. And, apparently, at least Zara likewise sees it. You aren’t running Firefox by any chance, are you? I thought I’d “reverted” when I was mobile earlier (and on FF) but, back in the office and IE, I’m seeing the new one.

          Good Christ, my inner tech support nerd has resurfaced….

        • Becky says:

          It’s probably just my browser. I’m sure you look great.

        • Anon says:

          I appear to have misplaced my script. Is this the scene where I burst into tears and blubber, “Don’t patronize me!” or where I look at my stick-figure butt in the mirror and mutter, “I do look good, don’t I?”…?

        • Becky says:

          Oh no. There it is. I see it. You DO look great. Oh of course. Mmm hmmm.

        • Becky & Anon. – Your snowman banted makes me realise that my wallpaper is about the same colour as that background… If I had a big tin of white paint, I could recreate Anon.’s image pretty well.

        • Anon says:

          Evil capitalist bastard that I am, I’m now trying to figure out if there’s any legal way for me to copyright generica…. (:

          (And thank you, Becky.)

    • Anon – I’m glad to hear about your ethical hunting. My only problem with the killing of animals is that it’s sometimes totally avoidable, and sometimes (like on dog farms) involves unnecessary pain.

      And I’m glad to see so many people are sickened by the thought that pain is worthwhile to make something taste better…

  5. Irene Zion says:

    (I mean the making me want to do bad things part.)

  6. Slade Ham says:

    The dialogue was spot on. Min Jung was just fun to read. What a disturbing (in a good way) piece though. Wow.

    While I am an explorer at heart, I try to avoid experiences like that one. I don’t know that I would have made it as long as you did. I was more than happy to test drive all kinds of foods when I was there, but I only got as brave as dried fish and octopus.

    Great read, Dave. I think I shall leave all future Korea related posts in your very capable hands.

    • Thanks, Slade. Dialogue can be hard to write in countries where they’re speaking English as a second language. It’s hard to reflect the sound of their speech without a) sounding like an insensitive asshole (ie making fun of them); or b) confusing the whole situation.

      I’m totally used to “konglish” or “engrish,” as it’s often known. If I hear “rike” I know it means “like” but I don’t want to write that or I sound like a bastard. I wouldn’t like a Korean person mocking my Korean skills, even though I’m terribly at it.

      Did you try the live octopus or dead?

  7. Quenby Moone says:

    Yikes. So many levels of yikes.

    But the dialogue is great, even though the girlfriend was a twat. I love the idea of grudge-sluttiness. Hilarious, and appropriate since my husband and I were talking about grudge-friending on Facebook the other day. So funny, and bizarre and real.

    The dogs though. I don’t know how to address that at all.

    • Yes, grudge sluttiness is a common thing in conservative societies… or so I’ve seen. It’s a way of striking back at parents and other authority figures. It’s a dangerous thing in Korea, where being seen with a foreigner is really a big social failure. Women frequently get spat at on the street for taking a foreign boyfriend.

      And thanks for the dialogue compliment… That’s one part of my writing about which I’ve never had a lot of confidence.

  8. Matt says:

    Dammit. After work I’m going to go straight to the nearest dog park and hug & frolic with all the dogs there.

    This is why I’ve a.) really cut back my meat intake in the first place and b.) only purchase meat from providers that breed, raise, and yes, slaughter them humanely. No factory farms at all.

    Hanging makes them taste better. What. The. FUCK.

    Good for you for walking away.

    • And good for you for eating humanely… I used to do the same, but it’s pretty difficult in Korea. I don’t know how well the cows and pigs and chickens are kept here… I can’t imagine they’re well-kept, because the concept of caring for animals never really took off. I like to think that even though they aren’t well kept, they’re probably not tortured… but I can’t be sure.

      And torturing animals for a better taste is one of the worst things I’ve heard. Ever.

  9. Zara Potts says:

    David.. I have to confess that I can’t actually read this. I have scrolled down here to say that while I am too cowardly to read, I know that you will have written a great piece.
    I just can’t bear the thought of cruelty to dogs. Or any other animal. Images stay in my head for days and days and that is why I can’t read.
    I did want to say though, we’ve missed you and welcome back from your holiday..
    Z

    • Hi, David,

      I had to read it backwards, kind of echo-ing Zara, here.
      I wanted to read it full-on, but totally killer greg warned me I’d be upset,
      so I read it backwards.

      .forwards read will I piece next your promise I

    • Irene Zion says:

      Zara,

      Chicken-shit!

      • Zara Potts says:

        Yup. I admit it, I’m chicken shit when it comes to torturing animals.
        I can’t even kill a spider, Damn it.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Zara,

          You know what I mean! I don’t believe in killing or torturing either. I mean READING the piece.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I know!! I know!!
          I’m far far too chicken shit to even read it. You know me, Irene – I’m not brave at all!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I think you are, in fact, but the torture of animals would make cowards of many.

        • Zara Potts says:

          You are an angel, D.

        • Zara Potts says:

          God, David. I don’t know how you can cope with these things. I’d never be able to get the images out of my head. Someone sent me a newspaper article about an ‘artist’ who for an ‘art project’ starved a dog to death in a gallery. All these fuckhead pretentious wankers would come into the gallery and look at the ‘exhibition.’ I would have gone ballistic if I had been in that city. Things like that make me believe there are too many monsters posing as human beings.

        • Yes, I heard about that – disgusting. I like weird art in general, but you can’t kill an animal like that. It’s shocking beyond words that someone would do it, and that people would go see it.

          I have a pretty dark view of humans, and I think there are more monsters out there than we care to admit.

    • Zara – I understand. I should have posted a warning at the start. I could have posted pictures… but I gave the link for anyone who feels they need to know more about this subject. I didn’t want to go too far. The sounds were bad enough to scar a person for life.

      Sadly animal abuse is rife here. It isn’t just the eating of animals that causes torture – it’s a culture based upon a solid hierarchy of life, running from rich men to poor men to women to foreigners, and then animals barely make the grade. They are considered there for our amusement… All kinds of abuse is tolerated. A man recently set a cat on fire and got a $200 fine. Another man had cats torn limb from limb for the same fine.

      • Zara Potts says:

        Even though I’m too chicken shit to read it.. I want to say how proud I am that you are shining a spotlight on it. You are awesome, David.

        • Thanks, Zara. I totally understand you not reading this… it’s not an easy subject to read. I guess the important thing is that from the comments and whatnot you know generally what this is about and that it is an issue, and if anyone ever asks you about it, you can help spread the awareness.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I will certainly do that. I am a paid up member of WSPA and the RSPCA’s and I have to ask them all not to send me the literature because I am such a Sooky La La. But I have read all the comments and half of your post (!) and you can be sure, I’ll be there for the good fight!!

          Oh and Scotland and England the same place? I’m surprised you didn’t walk out then and there!

        • You get used to certain things… When people ask if Scotland’s a part of England, I pretty much ignore them. In America a lot of people I met were under the impression that Scotland was the name of an English city… but in Korea they don’t really differentiate at all. My old school tried to make me edit textbooks with the British flag and “England” written underneath, so I started writing “Japan” under all the Korean flags… That didn’t go down too well.

  10. it’s weird that today of all days TNB features two posts with ‘dog’ in the title.

    a year ago today my first dog died.

    nobody ate her though.

    Korea scares me, that sort of brainwashed nationalism. It’s unreal.

  11. Jude says:

    Like Zara and Steph, I had to scroll over the worst parts of your story. But I loved the dialogue between yourself and Min Jung.

    I am NEVER EVER going to go to that foul country – to do that to dogs is as bad as what the Japanese do to whales. A point in Korea’s favour though – at least they don’t lie about eating dog. The Japanese still insist they hunt whale for ‘scientific purposes’.

    • Matt says:

      That’s why I donated a bit of money to Sea Shepherds last year. Even though I don’t really care for the guy who founded it.

    • Irene Zion says:

      I won’t taunt you, Jude. You don’t look as tough.
      (Although, I could be wrong.)

    • There’s an American in Japan who has to go about in disguise because he exposes their whale (and dolphin) slaughters to the world.

      And Koreans do lie about the dog thing. The website I linked to really stands out and I wanted to show that there are good people here. But that sort of thing is in the minority. Lots of people don’t eat dog, but still pretend it doesn’t happen to help further the image of Korea as some perfect place.

  12. Simon Smithson says:

    Oh, man.

    I don’t like the South Korea I keep hearing about. My old anthropology teachers would be appalled at my astounding refusal to deal with my cultural bias, but, there you go. I’m flawed. Sue me.

  13. Cultures shouldn’t earn respect by default. Sure, we should be sensitive and aware of differences, but when animal torture is part of culture, we shouldn’t be afraid to criticise. The same applies for sexual abuse and child abuse – these things are part of the culture in some parts of the world, and we shouldn’t treat them as anything but abhorrent occurances.

    And yes, I will sue you.

  14. Simone says:

    “At least we don’t eat dogs like a bunch of primitive degenerate pigfuckers!”

    Did you really say that? Because I sure as hell would’ve been thinking about saying something similar. Good for you!

    The image you’ve painted in my mind is one I’d like to wash away permanently, but we all know that things like that go on anyway. Ignorance truely is bliss.

    David, I love the way you write. Kudos to you for walking out.

    • Yeah, I said it… it’s not really that special because those are three of my favourite words: “primitive” “degenerate” and “pigfucker” work their way into most of my conversations. What can I say? I read too much Hunter S. Thompson.

      And yes, ignorance is bliss. But sadly, ignorance allows for the spread of evil (oh god, I sound like George Bush…) and so we have to talk about the bad stuff in life, even when it’s more fun to do something else (oh god, I sound like a parent…)

      Anyway, thanks for the kind words.

  15. Simone says:

    Well, that’s the first time I’ve heard those words being strung together so poetically. I like it!

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, it’s good to have some presidential and parental ramblings spilling forth every so often. Lord knows it keeps me sane at times. I agree that we should discuss the bad stuff, if not to prevent the spread of evil then for our own safety and sanity.

    • Yeah, plus there’s nothing like a good complaint. I really enjoy bitching about stuff, because afterwards you experience stuff (oh man, I’m not good with ideas today…) and stuff doesn’t seem so bad.

      Which isn’t to say that talking about Dog Farms makes Dog Farms any better… But it brings us a little baby-step closer to getting rid of them.

      Again, maybe it’s because I read too much HST that I like to complain. Reading his angry letters to TV producers, authors, editors and clothing manufacturers makes me realise that I don’t complain as much as I could… and that when I do I could stand to turn up my vitriol levels. I feel this is especially important as I age, because I want to be as crotchety an old man as possible.

  16. D.R. Haney says:

    I’d say this is one of your strongest pieces, in spite of it being so deeply unsettling, except that you’ve posted so many strong pieces that I’m not sure where to begin.

    American Indians used to eat dogs. Among some tribes, it was considered a great honor for a guest to consume his host’s favorite dog. There are stories of hosts weeping as they spoke about what a great friend the dog was, even as it was being eaten. And, of course, dogs have eaten their their owners, though to make another animal suffer such agony before being killed — to the best of my knowledge, that’s exclusively a human trait.

    I see great things ahead for you, David Wills. You give me hope for the future, you do.

    • Goddamn, man, you’re making me blush like a well-fed Indian.

      I didn’t actually know about that Native American thing… I know that across Asia it was pretty popular until recently, and that it still goes on in the poorer parts of most Asian countries. I think that it’s a totally different game when you eat dog because you have nothing else to eat, and also when you eat something you respect. Korean culture isn’t exactly imbued with a respect for living things.

      As for the future, I’m rather hopeful myself. 2010 has been a brilliant year so far and I thoroughly intend to write my ass off until it’s done, because honestly it just feels like one of those years when good things are going to happen.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I hope that sense continues. I myself started the year with a feeling of hope, but I’m not feeling so hopeful at the moment. Still feeling the noose, which is again tightening. But that’s a horrible metaphor, I suddenly realize, in light of your post.

        I’m, alas, unsurprised by what you say about Korean culture, and would be even if I hadn’t read a number of posts about Korean culture by David Wills.

        Meantime, I see that I left out the word “weeping” in my initial post, as in: “There are stories of hosts weeping…” But you’ll now see that the missing word has been mysteriously restored. Actually, it’s not so mysterious. I replaced the word myself.

        • Zara Potts says:

          D,
          You were right to feel hopeful at the beginning of the year. It’s going to be good. I think February is just playing hard to get.

        • Sorry to hear about the tightening noose… But a good metaphor is a good metaphor, even when it accidentally treads on the toes of something sensitive.

          I was surprised about the dog meat thing… I grew being told “If you’ve heard something about a race/group of people, it’s probably not true.” And so I learned from a young age the stereotypes are bullshit. It made me highly distrustful, which I think can be a great thing.

          But the only things I knew about Korea before arriving in Seoul were that they’d hosted the Olympics once, the World Cup once, had some crazy dictator in the north, and that they ate dog… I guess it was a playground rumour or something. I don’t recall where/when I heard it.

          But I assumed it was a lie. If people laughed at Koreans for eating dogs, I reasoned, it probably meant that Koreans didn’t eat dogs, and that Scottish people were racist idiots.

          But as always, the truth is a hybrid of different things… Lots of Koreans do eat dogs, but others are appalled; whilst racism probably helped that information spread more than anything else.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I once asked my Korean manicurist about eating dog. She vehemently assured me that it was not true, that nobody in Korea ate dog and that it was a rumour spread by the West.
          I also asked her about the shit needle. She copped to that…

        • Haha, you asked a Korean about the Shit Needle? That’s brilliant!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yup. She even had some hand action that went with it. She was happy that I knew about it. I sat down really fast that day..

        • D.R. Haney says:

          My skepticism runs in all directions, which is to say that I don’t completely dismiss any rumor, no matter how far-fetched or malovent. It may finally prove to have some basis in fact, though wildly distorted, or in any case it may reveal quite a lot about its source, unwittingly of course.

          Oh, and thanks, Z., for the note of hope. You’re the angel, to address here what you said above.

        • Zara – They do have a certain hand gesture. After all, you can’t just poke your finger into someone’s butt just any old way…

        • I guess that what I was trying to say was that I’m skeptical, rather than firmly believing or disbelieving. I tend to think things are “probably” not true, but that there might be an element of truth.

          Anyway, it sounds like you have a healthy way of processing information. I’m alarmed by people who believe anything they hear. And likewise, assuming everything is 100% wrong would be a foolish way to live, too.

    • Oh, and regarding the “human trait” of inflicting pain…

      My friend once spent a few months in the Amazon, studying ants for her zoology degree. She had to study a species of ant that not much is known about. These ants won’t eat anything until it dies from pain. It doesn’t die from its wounds… it actually dies because the pain becomes so great that it can no longer live.

      These ants are phenomenally intelligent (basically they sound like tiny humans) and they capture bigger animals in traps. Once they’ve done that they systematically torture the poor creature to death – pulling off its eyelids and stretching its joints out of place with brute ant strength.

      There are countless examples throughout history that would suggest we humans aren’t too different from these ants.

  17. Zara Potts says:

    100!

  18. […] A South Korean dog farm is not a good place to go on a […]

  19. Dana says:

    Oh my god was that awful. I have such strong aural memories, I feel like I’m remembering a sound I’ve never even heard. Which is of course a huge compliment to you. I note your use of snatch repeatedly in the piece (heh) which leads me to your contempt for her.

    I’m sure it’s part of western culture that we feel more outraged when it’s an animal that shares our home, because there are tons of animal abuses going on right here in the good ol US of A in the name of making food more tasty — I always want to punch someone when they order veal or pate. Really? Your palate is that highly evolved that you need the extra special goodness of torture? Fear must taste excellent.

    My dog is getting a huge amount of love and treats when I get home.

    If you couldn’t tell David, I thought this was great, I’m just feeling extremely queasy at the moment.

    Warning labels may be appropriate.

    • Thanks, Dana.

      When I first read this story I asked myself if I used “snatch” too much… Perhaps, but I think it’s one of those words that packs a punch. “Snatch” seems a little more graphic than the other words I could’ve chosen from.

      I’m not sure if I’ve eaten tortured animals before… Probably, but not consciously. I’ve heard that the adrenaline produced by a dying animal makes it taste better. As though that was an adequate excuse.

  20. […] He has met people who have claimed to be a South Korean superstar; claimed to be the Messiah; claimed to not find it unusual to be cutting hair without wearing pants; and, most memorably, claimed to be cool with canine cuisine. […]

  21. karen Dawn Ryder says:

    Please let me know what i can do to protest against the horrific torture and killing of a pet cat by a Korean woman in Seoul? I am more than devastated.

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