Do Koreans Eat Dogs?
To many in the Western world, the idea of eating dog meat is consider unfathomable even among non-vegetarians. Thus, many are surprised that dog is considered a delicacy in many cultures and countries around the world. One such country is South Korea.
Evidence that South Koreans have been partaking in feasts which include dog meat dates back to the 4th century CE. There are tomb paintings in the southern part of the country which depict the slaughter of dogs in the ancient Korea. Today, this tradition continues among a small but significant number of Koreans in restaurants around the country.
Over the years, Koreans have devised many ways for preparing dog meat in the form of dishes and drinks. These include stews, steamed meats, and even alcoholic beverages. Let's look at a few of these below.
Boshintang (Dog Meat Stew)
The most popular and common dish which contains dog meat is boshintang (bo-shin-tang). It is usually served only in specialty restaurants. The dish is a stew prepared with a mixture of common Korean spices, perilla leaves, green onions, and even the occasional dandelion. Korean mint leaves, agastache rugosa, will often be included to cover the scent of the dog meat, and it is commonly believed that eating the dish helps increase virility in men.
Gae Suyuk (Steamed and Braised Dog)
Gae Suyuk (su-yuk) is dog meat which has been steamed and braised. It is commonly served in a manner similar to Japanese shabu-shabu with a hot pot of boiling water, spices, and a mixture of vegetables. It can also be served in a manner similar to Korean BBQ in which one wraps the small slice of meat with cabbage, lettuce or some other leaf. This is perhaps the second most common dish, and it will often be served at specialty restaurants also serving boshintang.
Gaegogi Muchim (Steamed Dog Meat)
Much of Korean cuisine is named after the basic ingredient plus the manner in which the dish is prepared. Think of fried pork for an equivalent in English. That is the case with gaegogi muchim (gae-go-gi mu-chim). Gaegogi (gae-go-gi) literally means dog meat, and muchim (mu-chim) is the Korean word for steamed. Thus, gaegogi muchim is steamed dog meat. It is often prepared with spices and served with Korean leeks and an assortment of vegetables. Those brave enough, or evil enough depending on one's perspective, to try it have often reported that it tastes similar to roast beef.
Gae Soju (Dog Wine)
Gae soju (so-ju) is something unique to South Korea. Soju is a common form of distilled alcohol sold everywhere in South Korea. It is to Korea what sake is to Japan. The drink was originally made with rice, but manufactures now use a variety of other grains. Some restaurants have mixed soju with dog meat, ginseng, and other ingredients from Chinese traditional medicine to create a "healthy" mixed alcoholic drink. That is, it is commonly believed the drink help improves one's health. Despite the supposed health benefits, this drink is not very common around Korea today.
Do you consider eating dog meat to be ethical?
The Adventure of New Cuisines
If you're the adventurous type, happen to be traveling through South Korea, and wish to try dog meat, then you're in luck. There are over 500 restaurants dedicated to serving dog meat in capital of Seoul alone. It is not difficult to find a place, but those in the know recommend finding a Korean friend to serve as your guide.