Update (June 10, 2016): EK recently returned from the first two months of filming in Korea for the documentary. She was blessed with some fantastic footage and interviews from the front line of the fight against the Korean dog meat trade.
Update (July 22, 2015): We’ve started pre-production on EK’s new documentary film, Compassion Soup, the end of dog meat in Korea. Now we need your help to produce it. Learn more about the project and find out how you can get involved.
You may have already read our strategy to help dogs in Korea. In a nutshell, we are developing three programs: public awareness, community outreach and international adoption. Over the span of three articles, I’ll be breaking down each program, starting with our strategy raise public awareness about dogs in Korea.
We address public awareness first because, in our view, it’s the most important of the three programs. Adoption has a direct and immediate positive impact on the dogs: it gets them out of the dog meat farms and into loving homes. Community outreach brings together like minded animal welfare advocates and speaks to the old saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Public awareness, however, speaks to those on the other side of the issue: the people who eat dogs and the people who raise them for meat.
It is our deeply held belief that all beings have compassion in their hearts. With few exceptions, nobody wakes up in the morning with a desire to do harm to others. With this in mind, the main strategy raise public awareness is to deliver a positive message.
There are already enough videos documenting in graphic detail the abuse of dogs in Korea, so we see little value in us creating more. Ours is not a fight against the dog meat industry, but rather a movement for compassion toward all living things. We’re not out to demonize the dog meat industry, but rather to cultivate compassion and understanding. We believe, therefore, that lasting change will only come through meaningful dialogue, mindful decisions and collaborative action. OK, that sounded a bit vague, even to me, so let’s get into the details.
Let me start by admitting that we don’t have all the answers. In fact, we are relying on you and the rest of the community to share your wisdom and experience. With your help, this strategy will evolve over time to become stronger, more focused and ultimately successful. With that in mind, please accept my invitation to pick apart anything you read here, but make sure you do it in the comments below so we all benefit from your insight.
EK and I are partners in a small web and media production firm in Toronto called Pasada Media. As documentary film makers, we tend to look at everything as a story. And we think video is one of the most effective ways to tell stories. As such, we producing a full-length documentary film to tell the story of Korea’s dogs. I’m not talking about a gory exposé of the dog meat industry, but rather a thoughtful exploration of the issues through the stories of all those involved. Documentary films are a time tested way to raise public awareness and convey emotional impact.
The concept for this film is simple. We want to share the stories of the incredible animal advocates in Korea and the loving dogs they serve. Next, we want to understand the perspectives of people in the dog meat industry, government officials, restaurant owners and those who enjoy eating dog meat soup. Finally, we want to gain insight from the people in the international animal rights community who have been working tirelessly for decades to improve the lives of dogs in Korea, and other animals the world over.
As we roll out our international adoption program, we’ll document the process. We want to share the stories of dogs migrating from a life of suffering on the dog farm to lives of joy in their forever homes. This complex program won’t be without challenges, so we’ll be relying on lots of community input for guidance.
But most of all, we want to gain a complete understanding of this complex issue from all perspectives. Then we want to share what we’ve learned with the world in the most compelling and thought provoking way possible.
While we may not have all the answers today, with EK directing this film, I’m willing to bet the answers will be far less elusive by the time this documentary is finished.
Turning Awareness into Action
The documentary film and video series are only the beginning. For real change to happen, we need to turn awareness into action. All the talk in the world won’t free Korea’s dogs, but it will help to bring attention to the issue, build solidarity in the community, and influence those in a position to act.
Some may think it’s a bit naive to bank on cultivating compassion to affect change. But international pressure and government legislation only goes so far. Real change happens in the hearts and minds of individual people, not governments and corporations.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Awareness and education are a critical first step. Once upon a time, cigarette manufacturers used doctors to promote smoking, but now we know better. Today, many people in Korea believe that dog meat soup increases stamina and helps to relieve the lethargic effects of summer heat. By challenging such antiquated beliefs, and by highlighting the effects of the dog meat industry on the lives of these intelligent and emotional animals, we believe that the common sense and compassion inherent in all of us will win over.
But awareness needs to be followed with action. We need to work with farmers to provide viable alternatives to dog meat production. We need to lobby the Korean government to introduce legislation outlawing dog meat consumption. We need to petition for political and economic pressure from the international community. With the 2018 Korean Olympics on the horizon, Korea will be in the international spotlight. We need to capitalize on this opportunity.
Over to You
There is a long road ahead and we’re just getting started, but there are many others ahead of us who have been fighting for Korea’s dogs for a long time. Countless more are ready to rise up and begin the journey. I ask all of you to reach out and join us.
Leave a comment below with your thoughts on how we can most effectively raise public awareness about dogs in Korea. Share your stories and successes so we can all learn and gain courage from your experience. The road may be long, but the journey is better when we walk together.