Despite official orders from the South Korean government, most restaurants in South Korea’s Pyeongchang County, where the Winter Olympics began Friday, are continuing to sell and serve dog meat to patrons.
South Koreans are estimated to consume approximately one million dogs each year. Despite growing opposition among South Korean animal lovers and activists, threats to boycott the Pyeongchang Olympic games, and an official order from local government to suspend dog meat sales during the Games, most restaurants are still selling the controversial dish.
Local authorities ordered the 12 dog meat restaurants in the area to suspend dog meat sales, offering a subsidy in exchange for their compliance, in order to avoid leaving a negative impression on foreign visitors to the area. Only 2 restaurants in the area have complied, according to Channel News Asia.
In an effort to prepare for the Olympic games, local authorities have spent millions of dollars to prepare for the influx of foreign visitors to the area, providing foreign-language menus and signs at restaurants and bathrooms and offering subsidies to restaurants in exchange for temporarily halting the sale of dog meat.
Yet, restaurateurs in the area don’t believe they should change their menus simply to accommodate visitors. Many have complained that the order to remove dog meat from their menus is a threat to their livelihood.
“I have been selling dog meat for decades. It is really difficult for me to change my menu just because of the Olympics,” sPark Young-ae, whose Young Hoon Restaurant is close to the Olympic stadium, told Fox News.
The Olympic organizing committee issued the following statement to USA Today on the matter: “We are aware of the international concern around the consumption of dog meat in Korea. This is a matter which the government should address. We hope that this issue will not impact on the delivery or reputation of the games and the province and we will support the work of the province and government on this topic as needed. Also, dog meat will not be served at any games venue.”
Although the dog meat trade has been a part of South Korean tradition for decades, the industry continues to decline as young South Koreans more and more often embrace dogs and cats as pets rather than food.
In 2016, South Korea’s most infamous dog meat market, the Moran Market in Seongnam City in the Gyeinggi-do-province, finally shut down for good. The market sold an average of 80,000 dogs per year as food.