The Korea Herald


Korean students' exchange visit to US thwarted over dog meat issue

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : Feb. 10, 2023 - 15:59

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A photo of an illegal dog farm in Ganghwa County, Incheon. (ARK 119) A photo of an illegal dog farm in Ganghwa County, Incheon. (ARK 119)

A planned exchange visit to a US town by South Korean high school students last year was canceled after animal activists there raised the issue of dog meat farms operating in the area the students are from, it was revealed Friday.

Palisades Park, New Jersey – a twin town of Gangwha County in Incheon-- decided to cancel the planned three-week exchange program in June last year. The decision was made after some activists reported to the borough’s council about illegal dog meat activities in the Gangwha area. The activists shared videos of dogs kept at those farms online.

Ganghwa originally planned to send 12 local high school students to Palisades Park for a three-week exchange program.

“We believe the issue is about cultural difference, and regret that the program had to be canceled,” a Ganghwa county official said in a statement.

“We have changed the location of the program to Thailand. We hope to continue our partnership with Palisades Park despite the latest issue,” the official added.

In July 2021, Korean police busted an illegal farm in Ganghwa and found 500 dogs kept in around 100 tight cages. Last year, the authorities launched a separate investigation into a man who was found keeping some 80 dogs in a similar environment.

Animal Rescue Korea 119, a civic group that filed reports of the two dog farms, told The Korea Herald that there are at least 10 illegal dog farms still operating in Ganghwa.

“Ganghwa currently has the second-largest number of illegal dog farms in South Korea behind Gimpo,” said Lim Young-ki, the head of ARK 119 in a phone interview.

Ganghwa County Office has been in talks with the group for a special monitoring system since 2021, he added.

Dog meat consumption is a long-standing controversy in South Korea.

According to a public opinion survey, conducted in May on 1,514 adults, a total of 55.8 percent said Korea should stop eating dog meat, while 28.4 percent said the practice should be preserved. Some 86 percent of the respondents said they don’t eat dog meat.