A friend came across this ABC News video from a year and a half ago, depicting more than 30 dogs rescued from a meat farm in Korea on their way to shelters in North Carolina to be put up for adoption.
As she guessed, the second dog to last dog shown in the video, is — though Jindos can look pretty similar — the one that now belongs to me, I think.
Jinjja is his name.
He has come a long way since this news footage (which I’d never seen) was shot — turning from a virtually wild dog scared of everything to a trusting and loyal companion.
I thought, with the 2018 Winter Olympics concluding, with the controversial dog meat trade having diverted only a little focus from the games, this would be a good time to remember that a small minority of Koreans eat dog.
Despite government efforts to suspend or at least better hide the practice, dog meat was still being served in restaurants in PyeongChang, and numerous dog farms are located within just miles of Olympic venues.
With all those inspiring moments of athletic achievement we watched, all those examples of humans trying to be their best, it was easy to ignore that harsh reality — that one to two million farm dogs are butchered each year in South Korea.
Some news media used the Olympics as an opportunity to remind us of it. Others, like NBC, barely touched on it — apparently not wanting to turns its spotlight from those inspiring moments of athletic achievement. Instead, it presented South Korea’s best side, and that best side is a truly great side.
But South Korea has a worst side, too, and yes, we just reminded you of it.
Some would say eating dog meat is part of Korean culture, and thus deserves to be free from criticism, but it doesn’t — not anymore than the tradition of slavery in America deserves to be excused, forgotten or forgiven.
Before the Olympics was a good time to let South Korea know, as many did, what the rest of the world thinks about the practice. During the Olympics was a good time too, and some Olympians even did.
In addition to the other Olympians who were planning to help a Korean farm dog get to the U.S., one, Gus Kenworthy, a member of the US. Olympic ski team, also took action.
Kenworthy, who brought home a rescue dog after the Sochi Olympics, visited a dog farm near PyeongChang in the process of being closed by Humane Society International and left with a puppy named Beemo, according to PEOPLE magazine.
He didn’t single-handedly rescue 90 dogs from the farm, as a Fox News headline shouted: “US Olympian Gus Gus Kenworthy rescues 90 dogs from Korean dog meat farm.” But he did assist Humane Society International in gathering up the dogs and arranged to adopt one of them.
Hyped as reports like that might be, photo ops that they might be, its good so see some attention on the issue.
If it’s one you feel strongly about, express that somehow. Comment here, or elsewhere, or sign a petition. Contribute to Humane Society International’s program that cuts deals with the dog farmers to close their farms, and brings the dogs to the U.S. and Canada for adoption. Provide a home to one of those who end up here.
You won’t get a gold medal for it. But you might keep one dog from ending up on a dinner plate or in a soup bowl. And for that you can feel proud.
(Bottom photo: Gus Kenworthy /Instagram)