One of the most common stereotypes about South Koreans is that everyone eats dogs, like feral monsters who snack on pets and crave puppies. Due to its shock value, this caricature has been glued to the minds of ignorant people. The truth is, they love their pets too and eating dog-meat is met with similar repulsion and curiosity, even in Korea.
Dog-meat consumption dates back to the 4th Century AD. People later began to eat mainly farm livestock, however in very poor regions dog-meat was still eaten. That was in the past where starvation was the only other option. Nowadays, places which sell dog-meat are rare and uncommon. It disgusts most Koreans, and those who have eaten it, tried it partly due to curiosity and controversy. Like haggis and black pudding in England, people have heard of it, but not many people eat it in reality. Dog-eating is slowly becoming history.
Nowadays, pets in Korea (especially dogs) are being treated more and more like humans, and are becoming family members. Korean dog-owners spend money on pet clothes, accessories and food. Now dogs look even trendier than their owners, with stylish designs and adorable costumes, such as the Hanbok. Markets and online shopping malls dedicated to pampering pets are becoming more popular.
Korea also has plenty of beauty salons where pets can have their fur cut, shaped and styled. While pet salons exist all over the world, beauty treatments, such as fur-dye and spas seem to be especially popular in the East. Dog pampering has been taken to the next level, as ‘dog plastic surgery‘ is slowly becoming a trend. The treatments available are double eyelid surgery, stretchmark removal, and botox.
Not all dog owners treat their pets like this, as some people believe that beauty treatments are unhealthy and can give the dogs unnecessary stress. Some believe that surgery is normal and even somtimes necessary, as it is actually for medical and health reasons and not for just aesthetics.
South Korea is a land where old and new, tradition and modernity clash every day. Opinions on this topic are diverse. A minority eat dog-meat and another minority invest in aesthetic luxuries for their beloved furry friend. However, the majority of people are animal lovers. South Korea still has a long way to go for animal rights and animal protection, but overall changing attitudes projects a positive forecast.
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