Cultural Insensitivity? Gus Kenworthy Called Out For Rescuing 90 Dogs From A South Korean Dog Farm

Date March 8, 2018

Dogs are more than pets in some countries around the world, notably South Korea. Although the practice is dying off, it is still quite common to see people in the Asian country raise dogs for food.

A dying practice

Eating dog meat in South Korea dates back to ancient times. A poem in 1816, written by the son of a prominent politician and scholar, describes a woman visiting her parents with boiled dog meat, rice cake, and rice wine.

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These days, however, concerns about animal rights and the sanitary conditions of the meat has contributed to the decline of the cuisine in South Korea.

New Olympics. Same me.

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If the question uppermost on your mind is why dog meat is frowned upon when turkey, cow, goat, and lamb meats are normal, you are not alone. In the past, Western countries have been accused of cultural imperialism regarding issues like this, and it is easy to see why this is a concern.

Gus Kenworthy revives cultural imperialism debate

During the just concluded 2018 Winter Olympics, the American freestyle skier, Gus Kenworthy, made the headlines for rescuing 90 dogs. He saved the animals from a dog meat farm while the winter Olympics was ongoing.

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This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤️????

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Bringing attention to the plight of the dogs and their living conditions after he and his boyfriend Matt adopted one, Gus said:

Across the country, there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable.


While his actions were noble, he has been accused of culturally insensitivity. His Dogs are friends. Not Food” campaign was criticized for being tone deaf.

However, Gus was not alone in his campaign. Some of his fellow Olympians had taken up the issue prior to the skier's complain.

The South Korean government had reportedly offered money to restaurant owners near Olympic venues if they took dog meat off their menus.

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