To eat or not to eat companion dogs: Symbolic value of dog meat and human-dog companionship in contemporary South Korea
Food, Culture and Society
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
© 2018 Association for the Study of Food and Society.
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 9 September 2019 in compliance with publisher policy.
South Korea is widely regarded as a nation that eats dogs. Today, South Korean civil discourses emphasize a clear boundary between companion animals and livestock but an ethnographic approach to the South Korean dog meat trade reveals that this taxonomy does not always represent how dogs are commoditized or eaten in practice. At first glance, the Korean discursive pet vs. food and pedigree vs. non-pedigree boundaries appear to be mobilized so as to avoid judgments on the practice of eating companion animals from a foreign gaze. However, a closer analysis reveals that this claim is often transgressed in practice because dog meat is seen as a particularly powerful kind of food. Because trust in its medicinal qualities and its association with Korean identity is very widespread, dog meat has great social symbolical value. I argue that it is this fact rather than moral considerations that makes people set aside scruples when consuming companion animals, yet that dog meat enthusiasts also manipulate these discursive boundaries to serve their self-interest as consumers.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge) via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 21 (2), pp. 214-232.