(5/1/2002) In places where cats and dogs are often considered part of the family, the notion of them being butchered for meat and often treated worse than cattle, is simply offensive. Unfortunately, vague, unverified and exaggerated reports of animal cruelty in a culture many westerners don't understand leads to misinformed and misdirected efforts like this one.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
On the 10th of March 2002, Carte Blanche (a South African television program) broadcast a documentary filmed in Korea on the supposedly illegal practice of butchers selling both dog and cat meat for human consumption. In the western world, we would assume that these "butchers" were misleading the general public by selling the meat of domestic pets, but to the horror of many - the Korean public AND government are very much aware of this practice. In fact, it is condoned. According to Korean culture, the meat of dogs and cats is supposed to increase sexual performance, is healthier than beef and has many more alleged benefits as opposed to beef/pork/lamb.
As disgusting as this sounds, it gets worse. Heartbreaking footage of fully grown dogs jam packed into a cage with no room to move! Adult cats in the same situation - squashed into cages.
Images of a Korean "butcher" smashing a Labrador's head with a hammer, all the while oblivious to the blood curdling yelping and screaming of an animal in a severe state of trauma. Once the animals body becomes limp (and I stress limp - NOT dead) the cutting begins. The dog is skinned and chopped into steaks for the "customer". All this takes place in full view of the public and in front of the many other dogs helplessly locked in cages.
Then there are the cats ... they are placed into boiling hot pressure cookers..... ALIVE. I have never heard a cat make the kind of sound I heard these poor cats make. I pray that I, nor any other animal lover, ever has to.
If you want to take a stand, bear in mind that the World Cup Soccer is due to take place in Korea and Japan shortly. Do not buy any World Cup Soccer merchandise.
If you feel strongly about this cause, please put your name on the list below. If every 100 persons could please e-mail this back to email@example.com so that a record can be kept of this petition.
TO: Korean Embassy in South Africa
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
Greenpark Estates Blg. #3
27 George Storrar Drive
Tel: 012-460 2508
Fax: 012-460 1158
AND TO: World Society for the protection of Animals in London
Fax: 0944 207 793 0208
We demand that action be taken to enforce the Korean Law which provides that any person found guilty of cruelty to animals be fined, alternatively sentenced in accordance with the provisions of such law.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
South American television's Carte Blanche did run a story on animal mistreatment in butcher shops in Korea, but I was unable to verify the claims made in the chain letter are drawn from the segment and thus cannot validate them.
The e-mail version of the petition has no sponsor to guarantee its success. Messages to the "firstname.lastname@example.org" bounce back to the sender. Additionally, the tremendous public response to the segment on Carte Blanch led them to post a statement on their site, discouraging concerned citizens from signing a petition on the subject. "Individual letters carrying bona fide addresses carry more weight than petitions," the statement reads.
The suggestion to boycott World Cup merchandise is misguided at best. According to Reuters, FIFA President Sepp Blatter issued a letter to the South Korean Organizing Committee for the World Cup Finals in November 2001, encouraging Korean officials to be sensitive to public protest over the issue. The blatant mistreatment of animals in meat processing is not a new issue, though. Public outcry also rose corresponding with the 1988 Olympics, which were held in Seoul. Olympic officials did not intervene then, and it appears that FIFA officials will not now.
What drives these campaigns against Korea is a misunderstanding of cultures. Western protests are often inflated by our cultural rejection of cats and dogs as foodstuffs, since we usually regard them as pets or even family members. But, dogmeat and catmeat are considered delicacies in some eastern societies and some westerners simply have trouble coming to terms with that. The Korean government is already working to eliminate the barbaric practices some "butchers" use and These "butchers" do not accurately represent the entire dogmeat or catmeat industry.
However, emotions on the issue continue to run high. Newsgroup threads on the issue frequently disintegrate into "shouting matches," with postings devolving into hurtful, often racist rants as the debate continues. I saw several postings that unfairly categorized all Koreans as "unintelligent," "barbarians," and "pet-killers." Needless to say, many other posters took offense at these racist characterizations.
If you feel strongly opposed to the treatment of cats and dogs in Korea, don't rely on unsponsored petitions and misdirected boycotts to make your voice heard. The Korea Animal Protection Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have well-organized advocacy campaigns. Refer to them and Break this Chain!