Summer is a really bad time to be a dog in Korea. Bok Nal, or the dog days of summer, is the Korean name for the oppressively hot Korean summer. This year Bok Nal begins on July 17th and ends August 16th. Many Koreans, mostly older generations, believe that the best way to beat the summer heat is with a steaming hot bowl of boshintang, or dog meat soup. As a result, over one million Korean dogs will be slaughtered this summer.
The Road to Bok Nal 2016
Free Korean Dogs founder EK Park spent two months in Korea this spring. During this time she witnessed first hand (and filmed) the abhorrent conditions these animals endure at the hands of the unregulated dog meat trade. Korea is the only country in the world that farms dogs for food. Dog meat farms dot the countryside, where unfortunate souls are warehoused in filthy cages with no water and only human food waste to eat.
As spring turns to summer, the dogs are herded off to the butcher. In total, well over two million dogs are slaughtered in Korea each year, most during Bok Nal. The hotter the weather this summer, the more dogs will suffer and die.
Blowing the Doors Off Bok Nal
We plan to send EK back to Korea during Bok Nal 2016. After the last trip, EK realized the importance of putting boots on the ground. This is why it’s very important for her to be in Korea at the height of the slaughter, despite the inevitable emotional trauma. EK summarizes it best:
There are many online activists in the community. They play an important role because they help share information and bring the community together. But sometimes you have to get into the middle of the action. That’s where real change happens.
Our core strategy is to end the dog meat trade through public awareness, community outreach and international adoption. On this trip, EK will meet with key members of the local animal activist community. The goal is to organize a public demonstration against the dog meat trade at the height of Bok Nal. Plans are already underway and details will follow once we secure the necessary permits from municipal authorities.
The Korean animal welfare community is rather disjointed, with significant infighting and philosophical differences. This makes it hard to encourage collaboration between local groups. Also, foreign organizations are often perceived by local groups as unwelcome outsiders meddling in domestic affairs.
EK was born and raised in Korea. She has the language skills, cultural awareness and local connections required to rally the Korean animal welfare community. Perhaps more important, she’s also backed by an engaged and supportive community of animal welfare activists from around the world. With her local roots and global community, EK is well positioned to mount an effective demonstration and send a powerful message, loud and clear, to the dog meat trade.
Save as Many as Possible
To follow up on the success of her last trip, EK will continue her work with local shelters to get as many dogs out of the country through our international adoption program. Korean Jindo dogs are considered excellent companion animals in the West. Most Koreans, however, prefer smaller breeds and view domestic breeds as “meat dogs.” This makes it next to impossible to get dogs rescued from the dog meat trade adopted within Korea.
As a result, rescued dogs end up warehoused in shelters waiting to be adopted. With the help of both local and international supporters, we’ve had great success finding forever homes for Korean rescue dogs. We are already lining up adoptive homes for a number of dogs that EK will transport from Korea this summer.
Bok Nal Filming Opportunity
This trip will also provide an essential opportunity to complete filming of EK’s upcoming documentary, Compassion Soup: The End of Dog Meat in Korea. While demonstrations and adoptions have an immediate impact, the long term solution is to change Koreans’ perception of dogs.
This documentary is unique in that it is being produced by Koreans for Koreans. The goal is to remind everyday Korean people of their essentially compassionate nature, and encourage a shift from cruelty to compassion for Korean dogs. Bok Nal is the perfect time to film examples of both cruelty and compassion, which makes this trip essential for the success of the film.
It Takes a Village
It has been almost a year since EK founded Free Korean Dogs, and we’ve come a long way in a short time. This trip is our best opportunity yet to make a real difference for the dogs of Korea. But we need your help to make it happen.
Free Korean Dogs is a registered not-for-profit organization, which survives solely through community support. If you are able, please donate now to help get EK back on the front line. Together we can stop the suffering and end the Korean dog meat trade.