Guest Commentary: Should Davis Sever Sister City Relation over Korean Mistreatment of Dogs?

By Brett Lee

Someone recently asked me what surprised me most about being on the city council. I replied that I was surprised at the wide range of issues that we encounter on a regular basis.

In order to be effective, we must remain focused on the big issues.  For me, some of these big issues are paving our roads, maintaining the fiscal sustainability of our town, protecting/improving the downtown, and making sure that development decisions balance the near neighbors’ concerns with needs of the entire community.

Having said that, we still get thrown issues that should be dealt with at some level. Gandhi? Coyotes? Historic bathrooms? Our community rightfully expects that we have the bandwidth to pay attention to all sorts of items.

Recently, we starting receiving a large number of emails expressing concerns about the treatment of dogs in Korea.  The connection to Davis was made in the emails – “Why does Davis have a sister city relationship with Sangju Korea when the Koreans are mistreating dogs?”

Accompanying the emails was a link to this youtube video (Warning extremely graphic and disturbing images):

My general view is that people of sovereign nations should be allowed to live as they as nation choose to live.  It is not my position to tell people how they should or should not live.  I do not need someone from another country telling me whether or not I should be able to eat a hamburger or not.

At first I mentally placed the emails I was receiving in the “low priority” category; I would get to them eventually.  I then received another dozen of these emails from people all over the world telling us (Davis) that we should sever our sister city ties with Sangju Korea or that we should express our disapproval of how the dogs were being treated to the government of Sangju. I became more curious and watched the video.

The video is pretty powerful stuff.  It was, in fact, quite moving and heartbreaking. (please watch it to understand what I am talking about).

The video clearly shows that something is wrong.  I needed help to place it in context though.  It is quite possible that someone could come to the US and film illegal dog fights here and claim that people should boycott the US for the mistreatment of dogs.  Out of context, it could be a compelling argument.  But in context, the vast majority of people in the US disapprove of dog fighting, it is illegal, and if we catch people doing it we arrest them.  So, in context it seems a little unfair to claim people should boycott the US for dog fighting when it is illegal and most people are opposed to it.

So my question was this – can someone help me place this video in context? I need to understand the context of the video in relation to what the laws are in Korea and what the general sentiment is in Korea concerning the treatment of dogs.

I reached out to a friend of mine – Luis Ambriz a recent UCD grad who had some spare time (he is currently conducting a job search) and asked him if he would research this issue for me.

This is what he wrote:

  • The Movement Against
    • The group behind the video is the Humane Action Alliance (HAA), comprised of South Korean animal rights activists. They are also supported by, a group based in Northern California that runs a blog advocating for the cause.
    • In 2013, the HAA launched the “Stop It Korea!” campaign in South Korea to end the multimillion dollar dog meat industry that many claim is illegal and inhumane. While both the group and the campaign appear to be legitimate and free from ties to private companies, the reasoning behind the campaign may seem questionable.
    • The group appeals to Eurocentric or Westernized standpoints on animal rights, but fails to recognize how differing cultures and customs can change stances on animal rights. In one instance, their online petition describes dogs as “loyal”, “faithful”, and even as “trusting companions,” descriptions consistent with American and Western treatment of canines as domesticated animals..[1]
    • While the group is entitled to their opinion on dog meat consumption, they do not have the right to dictate whether others should adhere to the group’s cultural values because not all cultures view dogs as purely domesticated animals. A large group of South Koreans see them as a food option or a cultural delicacy.
    • Using the videos for proof of mistreatment and inhumane conditions for animals raised for meat consumption is fair use. However, their use of the videos to attack others’ cultural values should not go unnoticed.
  • General View on Dog Consumption
    • Note the cultural and social acceptance of dog meat consumption in South Korea. While some sources estimate that anywhere from 5-30% of Koreans have tried dog meat in their lives, only a small fraction of South Koreans consume dog meat regularly.[2]
    • “A 2014 poll taken in South Korea revealed that while just over half of those questioned do eat dog meat, the vast majority of them (95 percent of female and 88 percent of male respondents) only eat it very rarely.”[3]
    • However, there is a large understanding amongst many Koreans that others possess the right to eat dog meat if they choose to do so.
      • Korean nationalists and many high-ranking officials within the government often voice their support for the consumption of dog meat. While dog meat is not a hierarchical food option, it is evident that the older generation is more likely to support the idea.
    • This sentiment is not as popular among the younger generation. In 2007, the Korean Ministry of Agriculture conducted a survey that found about 60% of Koreans under the age of 30 do not believe it is culturally relevant and oppose the consumption of dog meat.[4]
    • Ultimately, the argument of cultural relevance fails to uphold as many Koreans, especially youth, are against dog meat consumption and more so against the inhumane and mistreatment of dogs within the country.
  • Legality of Dog Consumption
    • Under current South Korean law, consumption of dog meat is not technically illegal. There is debate among the Korean population regarding the legality of the issue but dictating food laws do not explicitly state that dog meat consumption is illegal.
    • In 1991, the South Korean government adopted the Animal Protection Law. Article 7 of the law does not specifically prohibit the slaughter of dogs for meat but instead “prohibits killing animals in a brutal way”.[5]
      • The loophole allows for dog meat to go under-regulated because it is not classified as a type of meat under the Livestock Processing Act of 1962. Confusion occurs because the advocates on the petition claim that six laws are broken when dog meat is consumed. They use evidence taken from KARA’s (Korean Animal Rights Activists) June 2016 informational booklet (found here). The petition states the six laws that are accusedly being broken, which are:
        • Violation of Livestock Products Sanitary Control Act
        • Violation of Animal Protection Act
        • Violation of Control of Livestock and Fish Feed Act
        • Violation of Act on the Prevention of Contagious Animal Diseases
        • Violation of Waste Control Act
        • Violation of Food Sanitation Act
      • The main argument is not whether there are laws against dog consumption, because there does exist a loophole that allow for it, but whether the treatment of the dogs as meat for human consumption is fair or safe under current Korean laws.
      • The video of the law-breaking dog farms proves that these laws of sanitation, maltreatment, and animal rights are violated in the Korean dog meat industry. Supplemented by the sheer number of dogs being raised on farms (~17,000 farms supplying over 2 million dogs annually), the regulation of the market and slaughterhouses is questionable even if agencies did so.[6]
      • Lack of government presence and authority in the dog meat industry adds to decreased law enforcement. Since dogs are not classified as livestock, slaughterhouses and meat markets are unregulated by certain Korean food agencies which leads to general animal mistreatment.
        • Dogs are slaughtered by any means including electrocution, strangulation, and physical beatings, all classified as inhumane slaughtering methods on dog breeding farms.[7]
      • Currently, the legal status of dog meat consumption remains contested in South Korea but activists are attempting to add dog meat to the list of consumed livestock that require strict regulation or are working to ban dog meat from consumption altogether.
      • In December 2016, the government took a step in the legal direction and banned the dog meat trade in one of its largest markets, making a statement against the inhumane slaughtering of dogs in the country.[8]
    • Conclusion
      • While defenders of dog meat consumption argue that no laws are broken because dog meat is not considered livestock, their mistreatment and unsanitary holding of dogs should be more regulated by the government. The unethical ways the dogs are treated make the act of trade, possession, and sale of dog meat illegal under animal rights laws, and the industry is in dire need of immediate attention from the South Korean government.
      • If we look at the issue as solely a cultural difference, then it would be simpler to keep Sangju as a sister city. However, because the city is sanctioning the dog meat industry and the participants in said industry are ignoring animal protection laws, we must do more to prevent widespread mistreatment of animals in the food industry on a global scale.
      • The status of Davis’ sister city should be removed from Sangju, South Korea, until more action is taken to regulate and legitimize the dog meat industry, either at the city level or on a national scale. It is not a cultural issue; it is a humanitarian issue and the city of Davis needs to act accordingly.

So, what do you think? If you have watched the video

and read the report above, I am curious what your thoughts are.  My position will not be determined by “votes” (number of people saying “do this” or “do that”); I am really curious to hear what you think and I remain open on this.

FYI – My inclination is to support Sangju as a sister city, but to officially express my concerns about the treatment of dogs.









About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts


  1. Keith O

     It is not my position to tell people how they should or should not live.  I do not need someone from another country telling me whether or not I should be able to eat a hamburger or not.

    Brett Lee, thank you for that, I fully agree.  I also don’t think we need people telling others how they should live when it comes to drinking a sugary soda.  Don’t you agree?

    1. Diane Smith

      Perhaps all you who think it is “not your business to tell others how to act,” ought to consider we, who are working to stop this evil of torture of innocent animals, are speaking for them. As we read, hundreds are being stripped, alive, of their skins, their limbs and even genitals that these greedy vendors have convinced ignorant people there is power to be borrowed.  Restaurants park these poor tortured unfortunates out in back and take restaurant orders for their legs, shoulders and other cuts of meat. The cook goes out and cuts the piece off the poor alive dog!  I have a pix on my Facebook of the ‘before and after’ of a beautiful yellow pet dog, stolen and then found dead (thankfully) with just a torso piece left of him.  Selective outrage?  You bet!  We hate evil!  And we find a lot of ignorance in apathetic people

       When have you seen this  in your back yard?  But wait….there is more…

       I am really disgusted over the passing off of this issue to an unemployed Davis graduate to ‘research’ the problem.  It was an uninspired, lazy effort.  There is so much information online, in just one of the Facebook pages of people working to stop the consistent…. daily… prolonged torture…. of every dog and cat before it is brutally slaughtered. Death comes as a relief.

       I suggest Mayor Pro Tempore, Brett Lee by his attitude, slanted the outcome of this terrible piece of “research”.  I suggest people in the City of Davis do their own research. I can almost guarantee that they will be heartsick and gut-wrenched by what they learn.  My Facebook site is reached by calling up online, Facebook Diane Smith St Edwards.  On it you will see videos, photos and petitions which have been sent for years to So. Korean cities which persist in despicable, continuous torture, on modern city streets, with sometimes grinning, appreciative adults and observing children.  Dogs are hung, beaten with pipe , disemboweled alive, skinned alive, boiled alive, torched in the face, genitals,  set afire – alive -.  The lame excuse?   “It makes the meat taste better”.  We know they use it as entertainment too.  The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation​ can be called up for undercover  as well as arranged rescues of hundreds of dogs from this fate. Click on Ping An A Fu​, or others of the people who add commentary on this site, my site and any other Facebook site.  Your ” researcher ” missed the point completely.

       Additionally, there is a Boycott Dog and Cat Meat Trade Worldwide – HOW to Help STOP…​ which is current , designed to make apathetic So. Koreans stop this dog/cat meat trade.  More than a million animals are tortured each year.  Is that not a worthy subject to mention to a sister city?  Let the people of Davis decide: do they want any part of this sister city which practices such unscrupulous, unnecessary , agonizing torture of God’s innocent creatures.   I suggest your “researcher” keep on looking for employment.  He doesn’t belong in “research”.

       Mr. Mayor ProTem, please take the time to inform yourself, of the demonic, sadistic, tortures , straight from hell, which animals DAILY suffer.  This is no secret.  When it rains in some of these modern cities, the streets and sidewalks are covered in the blood of these poor animals.

      Please don’t be apathetic. Please help these poor victims of an ignorant , unmerciful society!

      1. Ewa Perczak

        I am completely agree with you Diane !!! we can not accept that in the name of the tradition these poor animals live in the hell from their birth to death !! effectively the death is for them a relief !! everywhere around the world we can see the people who mistreat the animals, but what happens in S. Korea overtakes the limits of humanity !!!I know that in the past the korean people ate the dogs, the old dead family dogs !!! this was a tradition !!!! nothing was lost because of famine !!! We can not say it now !! so these tortures in the name of the culture do not make any sense !!!in Europe, in the Middle Ages, the people ate the dogs too, but once they were dead ! and the skin was used as a blanket, but this skin was taken off once the dog was dead too !!! they weren’t skinned alive !!! beaten to the death !! hanged and boiled alive !!! of course we can not tell the people what they should eat , but the way how these poor creatures are killed is horrendous !! we have the lows in Europe against the mistreatment and torture of animals, in the butchery we start to put the video in order to prevent the mistreatments against the animals we eat later !!!  and we punish the people who do not apply the laws !! it’s horrible what happens in S. Korea, and I know that if we are the civilised people we should sever any relationship with the country where the animals suffer so much ! someone can not approve that in Europe, some people eat the horses, I love them and I can not stand that, but it is !! but the horses are not tortured in our butcheries , and if we learn that something wrong is with the butcheries, the punishments exist , the same with other animals in the livestock meat !!! but sorry, not the dogs and cats !! how we can stand that , that  in S.Korea exist to sorts  of dogs : for meat and family dog ! we are living in 21 century and we must do everything to stop this horrendous situation ! I termine my reply with what your president Abraham Lincoln said “” I’am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being””

      2. Joy Gaston

        Thank you, Diane. Your input and knowledge of this immoral, horrible, and cruel practice is an education to all those who don’t know the real facts. Screw cultural differences. This is pure evil. Must be stopped. We must fight inhumane treatment of any living being no matter where it happens.


    2. Patrice Lynch

      Well said, Diane Smith. There can never be any excuse, ever, for the way dogs and cats are tortured in South Korea. No civilised nation can turn its eyes away and pretend it is not happening or has nothing to do with us. People of courage and integrity, not to mention compassion, must lead the way.

      “All that it takes for evil to flourish, is for good men to do nothing.”

      We cannot, must not, sit by and do nothing. As we speak, beautiful, terrified, innocent dogs and cats are being beaten to death while hanging from wires by their necks, dismembered/ barbecued/ boiled/ skinned/ set on fire while still alive, in front of other terrified dogs who are locked in cages awaiting their turn. What does it say about us if we are not moved to horror and outrage? Where is our compassion, our humanity? Is this really the world we want our children to grow up in or do we desire to make it better for everyone, all creatures, a better, kinder place?

      I defy anyone to watch those videos and not feel anger and revulsion. South Korea is not some backward, impoverished state where people starve (and this kind of treatment would still be equally barbaric and unnecessary). It is a rich, prosperous country, a leader in electronics and cars ( too many coming into our country at the expense of jobs and our economy?) It is a country that should know better. It is a country with many kind and compassionate people, like Nami Kim, who devote their lives to helping these poor, terrified, suffering creatures.

      How many of us cried at Marley and Me? Grew up watching Lassie? Go home and play with our children and our dogs and cats? Well, it is not only our dogs and cats who matter: they all do. It is not only our children who matter: children are seeing this savagery in Korea. What is it doing to them? What will it turn them into?


      There is no real need for a consultation: there is a need to do the right thing. Take action. Stand up. Be strong. End the sister city relationship and be clear why: this reviles us, it horrifies us, it outrages it, it upsets us and it compels us to do the right thing.


      Ghandi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”


      Is this not a great nation? Are we not morally progressive, world leaders, who strive to be the best we can be? The Bible commands us to look after our animals. God created the world and decorated it with animals for people to enjoy and share it with. Not to burn, boil, brutalise, skin alive and terrify.

      Anything other than an ending of the relationship, with clear explanations why, is an abrogation of responsibility. Please, do the right thing. “Be the change you want to see” (Ghandi).



    3. Alana Poulie Lewis

      I’m so glad you are taking on this very important issue.  The dog meat trade is a huge issue not just in Korea but also, Laos, China, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.  This is not a question about “getting involved in another countries cultural practice” and “someone telling you what to eat” rather a question of humanity and protecting animals that are being abused, stolen and tortured under the idea that it’s “culture”.
       In China those that eat dog meat believe that if you torture the dog as they die, the consumer gains more power and vitality from the meat and it becomes tender.  In Korea, dogs are bred for Boshintang Soup “Dog Meat Soup” which Korean’s believe (through hundreds of years of folklore) has health benefits.  BUT the heath benefit or vitality doesn’t just come from the Dog Meat…it comes from the endorphines released while the dog is killed. The more pain the dog experiences the better the soup or meal for the consumer.
       Because of this “folklore” the immense torture these dogs endure is unthinkable and barbaric beyond anything we can image. This video that you watched is extremely tame compared to what is happening in slaughterhouses across Asia daily.   I just watched a video of a dog that was literally strung up by a cord around his neck, get blowtorched alive…starting with his feet for 20 minutes as they moved up his little, convulsing body.  His screams will never leave my thoughts…the smiles of the men laughing at this dog as he was burning alive in agony are etched in my mind.  I was physically ill after watching this video, thinking about how much pain this little innocent dog went through, and what must have been going through his mind while these men did this to him.  Dogs are intelligent and innocent creatures, and the thought that this was in fact someone’s stolen pet (he had a green collar on) who once felt love and knows the difference between cruelty and affection made this barbaric matter even worse.
      To make matters even worse, in China most of the dogs caught up in the trade are stolen pets (so while in Korea they are farmed, abused, starved, and left out in the freezing winters and stifling summers) in China, the truck loads of dogs heading to slaughter are in fact stolen pets from China and surrounding countries (Vietnam, Laos, and even Korea).   Amazing activists do what they can to stop this illegal transfer of stolen pets, but are often met with opposition from corrupt Chinese Police who are paid off by the dog traders. Just yesterday I saw a video of a dog owner who showed up at the police station to claim his stolen dog (that was taken off a meat truck) and the corrupt Chinese police told this owner that “the dog wasn’t his” and refused to return his pet.  The video is heartbreaking and as a dog owner myself, can’t imagine the pain this person and dog are feeling.
      SO…the issue is not about what we deem to be acceptable sources of meat…it’s the abuse and intentional torture of a living breathing, intelligent animals that range from stolen pets to dogs that are farmed. And while I agree that it might seem Hypocritical to some that American’s eat cows, pigs etc.….there are animals protection laws in this country and where I live in Canada.  If someone is caught mistreating a cow…they are prosecuted and millions of people and most importantly OUR GOVERNMENTS continue to address the treatment of animals.  Supporting any country that allows the dog meat trade to exist (by not addressing it) is in fact giving them your consent.
       So I ask you…if you saw video of a human suffering at the hands of someone who was inflicting torture (being set on fire, having their arms and legs cut off, cutting out their eyes, being crucified to a wall) by someone who claimed that this was their “culture” would you think it was okay? I’m guessing no and I also believe that our collective gov’ts would step in (through various international bodies, the UN, Unicef etc.) to help right side the offending country and rescue the affected people.  This is historically what has in fact happened and I would think that if this were happening in Sangju your decision to support them would be easy…NO.   
      With that said, the decision to support Sangju, shouldn’t be predicated on who the VICTIM of the torture is.  The question you need to ask yourself is AM I OKAY WITH TORTURE? Am I okay with what torture stands for; which is INTENTIONALLY imposing pain on another who has no ability to fight back.  If the answer is NO, then you need to take a stand against these horrible practices. This all starts with protests like “abandoning a sister city” and builds into a movement that will change a country’s mindset. Torture is wrong, abuse is wrong and this can and never should be deemed to be culturally acceptable anywhere in the world.   Citizens of humanity, can’t know that this is happening and then do nothing about it…if we took this approach with other historical matters this world would be a very different and far scarier place.
      Mr. Mayor, you have power to create awareness and start a movement. Don’t support Sangju and tell them why…then tell all the other mayors and officials what you’re doing and why. Be an agent of change and hope for millions of dogs that are enduring unthinkable torture…and put an end to the idea that this is somehow all okay.

  2. Chuck Rairdan

    World should sever relations with self over massive mistreatment of animals through factory farming. Another case of selective outrage when there are ample issues occurring in one’s own backyard.

    1. Keith O

      Another case of selective outrage when there are ample issues occurring in one’s own backyard.

      I again agree.  Our little town so strives to be a bigtime player on the world stage.

      1. David Greenwald

        Having a sister city relationship isn’t trying to be a bigtime player on the world stage. But the question is should we be aligning ourselves with cities that don’t share our values. For example, would we be reacting if instead of dogs it was human trafficking or slavery?

        1. Keith O

          It’s not just this alone, this is just another of the many national and world issues that our council sometimes feel they must weigh in on.  This discussion has come up many times and I feel that most of the Davis populace would like our council to stick to solving our local issues and problems.  I feel we already have enough on our plate to keep them busy.

          1. David Greenwald

            First, I think this is a separate issue from what you’re talking about. The Sister City program is pretty common in all communities and promotes an exchange of culture and understanding.

            Second, “I feel that most of the Davis populace would like our council to stick to solving our local issues and problems.”

            It is far from clear to me that you are correct on this point. But even so, this is a local issue as it has bearing on another community that we share a relationship with.

        2. Keith O

          Maybe when Sangju Korea learns that our community shut down free speech and the expression of diverse thoughts on our local campus the other night they will want to sever ties with us?

          1. David Greenwald

            That’s a really ironic statement in light of South Korea’s record on allowing dissent. Also technically speaking, UC Davis is not in the city.

        3. Keith O

          Yes I watched the disgusting video just as I also watched the disgusting videos of agitators shutting down free speech here on our Davis campus.

          I’ve also watched ugly videos of chicken farms and other livestock industry right here in America.

          [moderator] Your attempts at bringing up various other local issues are off topic.

  3. Tia Will

    Hi Brett

    Why does Davis have a sister city relationship with Sangju Korea when the Koreans are mistreating dogs?””

    I would look at the issue a little differently. The question for me is not what are some Koreans doing, but rather what are the citizens of Sangju doing ?  It would be absurd to castigate the citizens of one particular city if they are not involved to any significant degree in the objectionable behavior. That would be like castigating the citizens of Davis because the officials in Flint botched the water safety situation. I do not know if the information is obtainable, but I think that comment could only be made if there were a dog processing operation in Sangju or if Sangju was a major driver of the market for dog meat, but certainly not because “some” Koreans are engaged in this behavior.


  4. Dianne C Tobias

    Couple questions: Is this our only South Korean Sister City?

    What does Ruth Asmundson think about it? Is she still the liaison for that program? If not who is? She may well have an opinion.

    Someone should offer Luis a job, what an extensive report!

    1. Howard P

      Or, perhaps medium rare? [sorry, too easy]

      Having met with the visitors from Sangju, and talking “shop” with a fellow professional from there, I find the concept of severing the tie based on a very narrow “interest”, trivial and silly… ironically, they are an icon for building up, not out… preserving very productive farmland…

      A glimpse…

      Imagine a city with 6+ story housing, very compact form, lots of Ag, heavy use of bicycle and ped modes…  I don’t see the images of the City I saw in one of the brochures I got (and gave to the City) about 8 years ago… the site does give you the option of getting a brochure… suggest we let sleeping dogs lie (sorry, again)…

      1. Howard P

        Just found this…,+Gyeongsangbuk-do,+South+Korea/@36.4151807,128.1572681,204m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x3565acabe6edce4f:0x6111ce37068aae21!8m2!3d36.4109466!4d128.1590828

        Compare the footprint of a city with 110k+, to that of Davis…

        And we’d sever the relationship due to receipt of a couple of dozen e-mails?  Really?

  5. Eric Gelber

    It’s important to understand the purpose of the Sister Cities program. It’s intended to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.” It was established after WWII to build local community partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts. Sister cities work to find commonalities in cultural, economic, and technical interests to engage in mutually beneficial relationships and activities. It’s a way of understanding and overcoming cultural and economic differences. Many sister city relationships were initially established with former adversaries, Germany and Japan, and there are many sister city relationships with communities in China and Russia, for example, despite obvious conflicts between our nations. To condemn cultural differences rather than finding areas of mutual interest and cooperation despite those differences would be a step backwards. I agree with Brett and believe we can, as with our own sisters, address our concerns without cutting them out of our lives.

  6. Alan Miller

    Glass houses, anyone?

    I view the masses of unsprayed dogs and cats and shelters full of these domestic beasts as symptomatic of a deep sickness in our society.  We love our beasts, and the result of this “love” plus collective societal irresponsibility results in the suffering and death of millions of animals in domestic species in our country.  Like, is here anyone who hasn’t heard the spay & neuter message?

    Similarly, and right here at home, when I was going to school in Davis living in apartments, every summer, many complexes became overrun with stray cats that had been abandoned by stupid, selfish students  who “wanted a cat” and then “couldn’t keep it”.  At some point each summer, all the cats would disappear, having been the receiving end of a catcher visit. I assume nothing has changed, though I would love to hear that it has.

    While this isn’t the visual of the video, our society causes plenty of needless pain and suffering.  Visited a pound recently?  I can’t even fathom people’s individual thoughtlessness and collective sickness.

    As consistent with my views on this always, state and national issues are not the purview of our council.  Now we are graduating to international issues?  I don’t think so.  As much as animal suffering pains me, we can’t exactly throw stones until our pounds are more humane, have few animals and no kills.

    Let the Koreans deal with suffering in their country.  There is an ocean between us, culturally and literally.

  7. Lisa Donoho

    Many useful comments, and sister city relationships are important to share cultural, social, etc. values.  I am still stuck on the manner with which the dogs are slaughtered – burned alive, paws cut off while alive, boiled alive, not provided proper shelter/food/health…etc.  Based on my research, the majority of the older generation sees no problem in this practice, however, the younger generation is voicing their distaste.  And yes, I can appreciate the comparison between our factory farming practices and their farming practices, but the difference lies in their food laws and crocked politicians who turn a blind eye.  The political nature of this topic is hardest to swallow.  I hope you send a strong message to your sister city stating the importance of humane treatment of the dogs.  Seriously, how can this be allowed???  Strange, inhuman practice.

  8. Kathy Kyser Stulgis

    I am totally in favor of severing ties with your sister city in South Korea until such time as South Korea takes action to end the dog meat trade.    In your sister city, and in much of  South Korea, dogs are bred in cages with their feet never touching the ground.  When it is time for them to be killed, they are brutally killed by electrocution, having their throats cut or being hung.  All this is done in front of the remaining dogs who are shaking in fear.  Severing y0ur ties with your sister city, is not telling people what they should or should not ear, but is standing up for your belief that dogs are campani0n animals and should not be tortured to death

  9. Francie Campbell

    The cruelty of this industry and that loopholes in their legal structures to allow this barbarism to continue is what needs to be highlighted and addressed. Your nation, as with mine (Australia) has animal protection laws in place, and as you say, you can prosecute against cruelty to dogs eg in dog fighting rings. We do the same. If South Korea wants to be known as a first world country as they do, then they must address the dog meat industry head on. South Korea is the only nation in the world now that actively farms dogs (and cats also for elixirs) then slaughters them in the most inhumane and cruel ways – as you are already aware. With the South Korea hosting the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, there are campaigns already underway from their tourist organisations to promote the international cuisines to the visitors that will descend on South Korea. But what of their ‘hidden’ cuisine? Already there are moves to hide the signs of slaughterhouses in preparation for the games. As a sister city, I would ask you as part of the international community to do all in your power to put pressure on South Korea and your sister city to speak up for these voiceless ones. I am aware that sister city relationships are important for improving relations with other nations, but I think as a sister city you can also speak your mind and act on this wretched industry. We are all aware of the legal loopholes, the cruelty to animals in a much wider context that this, and also your need to address the local concerns of your own city…..but this issue is a national and international conscience issue. I respectfully ask you to sever your connections with your sister city until this industry is shut down. Thank you.

    1. Giny Woo

      Thank you, Francie for caring about the Korean dogs and your dedication to help save these poor animals from immense suffering and brutality. We must keep fighting to end of the horrific cruelty of dog meat trade!  These dogs don’t have a voice so we must speak for them.  Thank you so much!!

  10. Shu Hong

    Humanity as a whole needs to have some standards as to what types of practices are acceptable and what is not, as human beings. The dog meat trade in Korea is not about “cultural practices.” As human beings, we cannot condone torturing of animals just to cause an adrenaline-high so that the meat is tastier. We cannot condone torching (BBQ) animals ALIVE. We cannot condone prolonging the dying process just so the meat would strengthen one’s bodies. Those beliefs are erroneous, as most of us in the educated world know. If education cannot get to some groups of people in time for their minds to be corrected, the rest of humanity must stand up to stop them from practicing atrocities.

    We now have a chance to be a voice against warped, inhumane practices. Let’s do it.



    1. Howard P

      Similar to the following poster, what have you personally done to influence South Korea (and China, I’m told) to end the dog-meat trade?  Are you asking Davis citizens to do more?

    2. Giny Woo

      Thank you for caring about the Korean dogs and supporting the end of the horrific cruelty of dog meat trade!  These dogs don’t have a voice so we must speak for them.  Please keep advocating for the dogs. We thank you!

  11. Susan Song

    Mr. Lee,

    Thank you for your compassion and courage in writing this article.

    I was born and raised in South Korea. Torturing and eating dog and cats were never part of Korean culture. The practice of farming and slaughtering dogs is solely done by those who are only interested in profiting from the inhumane crime against the sentient and invaluable companion animals, dogs. Those who eat dogs and cats are those that are ignorant of believing in its mythical properties of cooling the body or giving strength. The majority of Koreans want to see consumption of dogs and cats to stop.

    South Korea is the only country in the world that farms dogs for consumption. There are approximately 17,000 such farms, and 2.5 million dogs are consumed each year. The entire process from birth to slaughter for these dogs is most horrific; they are fed waste food, they are kept in wire cages their entire lives never being let out, the transportation to slaughterhouses is sadistic where they are stuffed in cages to a point of experiencing suffocation and fractures. The slaughter is also barbaric where anything goes from hanging, beating, electrocution and sometimes even being boiled alive.

    Korea has rudimentary animal welfare rights in place but are hardly enforced, therefore international pressure is indicated. As long as South Korea is left to govern itself of their animals, they will continue to suffer, and thus humanitarian efforts are necessary. The Sister City Campaign is an ideal platform for such international pressure.  Please take your new awareness into action by reaching out and condemning this unacceptable, inhumane practice. 

    “Dogs or any animals for that matter do not have nations or borders, nor do they have a voice, therefore, it is up to us to be their keepers.”

    Thank you.

    1. Howard P

      As you were born and raised in South Korea, before you ask Davis folk to act, what have/are you and your family done to act in opposition to the consumption of dog meat in South Korea?  Other than posting here?

    2. Giny Woo

      Thank you, Susan for caring about the Korean dogs and your dedication to help save these poor animals from immense suffering and brutality. We must keep fighting to end of the horrific cruelty of dog meat trade!  These dogs don’t have a voice so we must speak for them.  So we thank you!

  12. Tina Overgaard

    Thank you for allowing the public to offer their opinions on this issue. I am disappointed that the research provided does not include some of the most controversial facts. The dog meat trade is not “culture”. History tells us that S. Korea was once primarily vegetarian buddhists and while some citizens ate dogs out of poverty, it was “taboo” and considered disgusting. It is simply ignorant to consider the dog meat trade as cultural. Please read the Buddhist Venerable Beopjeong’s argument of the dog meat trade which includes many historical facts here for more information: Even if this was considered cultural, please remember humans evolve away from “traditions” and “cultural practices” such as witch hunts, human sacrifice, slavery, and child brides.
    The research also did not provide accounts on how the illegal dog meat farms raise and slaughter the dogs. Dogs are forced to live in unimaginable suffering. They receive no medical care and are riddled with disease, infections, and illness. They are covered in puss filled sores and suffer from untreated broken bones and spinal injuries. Most dog meat farms feed the dogs human waste scraps and their own dead young puppies. For the lucky, or unlucky, dogs who do live long enought to make it to the 6-10 months of age, they suffer a fate that only nightmares hold. Some of the older middle aged men still hold on to the unproven myth that a consuming the meat of a dog who is tortured will will keep the body cool in the summer and increase their virility. The dogs are brutally hung and beaten in front of their own family. Live dogs are thrown into boiling pots and horrific hair removal machines or even worse,  blowtorched to remove the hair. The emotional trauma that the dogs who witness this is worse than death itself. Dogs have a heightened sense of smell, sight, and hearing and witnessing the deliberate hanging, beating, and boiling of their own mother is something that is unfathomable. The Oregon Supreme Court recently ruled a dog as a sentient being akin to a child. Dogs have emotions and feel pain to an extent that we are just now discovering through research.
    The dog meat trade spreads illness and disease. The World Health Organization has given several warnings in the past few years about the dog meat trade. Dog meat consumption poses great health risks, both from consuming the meat and also from dog farms that have no sanitation.
    The dog meat trade desensitizes children. The FBI recently started tracking animal cruelty cases as a result of the compelling links between animal cruelty and violent crimes in society. More recently, studies have found a strong link between slaughterhouse workers and domestic violence. Simply put, the dog meat trade is an unregulated illegal profit driven industry. It is not culture. It is nothing more than corrupt officials allowing deplorable conditions and  deliberate  sadism of dogs for profit.

    The Sister City relationships are meant to foster relationships that “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.” I do not see the dog meat trade as something that should be respected and understood, let along deserve cooperation. Sister City relationships share cultural, economic, and technical interests. I do not see where the compassionate country of America can find a commonality in the dog meat trade which brutally takes the lives of over two million dogs annually. South Korea is a very modern country and economic powerhouse. There is no place for the dog meat trade. America is a compassionate modern society and the dog meat trade does not align with the values and moral of our citizens. The dog meat trade borders, and dare I say infringes, on human rights issues. This is a global societal problem and social injustice. We are a compassionate society and I believe that severing a relationship with Sangju and voicing the city’s opposition against the dog meat trade is something that is ethically and morally correct. Please consider making this world a better place for our children.  Thank you for the opportunity to provide this information.

    1. Peter Wood

      What in the world could you do about “C”? Anyway, I think “E” is the right thing to do and would require very little time and effort. Of course, really ambitious people would say “all of the above.”

      1. Estie Kretschmer

        We need to evolve in ALL areas if we are to create a peaceful and compassionate world for our children.

        Why should one issue be more important than another? Just because some concerns us humans more? Isn’t that the very core of racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, speciesism?
        That just because they look/speak/act different from “us” they don’t deserve the same rights as “us”?

        How egocentric. How arrogant. We are not the only ones whose home is HERE, and who have the birthright to be on Earth and live in peace.

        Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speciesist ethic of the era of factory farming, of the use of animals as mere research tools, of whaling, seal hunting, kangaroo slaughter and the destruction of wilderness.  We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics.  ~Pete Singer

        1. Howard P

          My posit was what should the Davis CC focus on, given their purview, time limitations… so, will take that as a vote for everything/anything…  OK… fair answer…

  13. Howard P

    OK… quiz/poll:  what is most important for Davis and its CC to grapple with:

    A:  Budget, including long term

    B:  Infrastructure needs in Davis

    C:  North Korea’s nuclear capacity, and apparent intent to develop a delivery system that could reach North America (which might actually affect Davis)

    D:  Homelessness/MH in and/or around Davis

    E:  Breaking ‘sister city ties’ with a City in South Korea due to some grievious behavior towards dogs in South Korea

    F:  More than one of the above, and if more than one, please list them in rank order.

    G:  Other (please explain)

    Then, send your responses to the CC & copy the VG… [and please indicate if you actually reside in Davis, or not]

    1. Diane Hoffman

      Thank you Mr. Lee on your research regarding the animal abuse.  I watched only part of the video because I started crying upon watching what they were doing to that poor tortured dog.  I refuse to finish watching it. I am a dog lover.  Please sever all ties with the sister city until they have better laws for the dogs and cats. God tells us in His Word (bible) that we are to take care of the animals.  God does not tell us to torture them, cut of their paws while still alive, boil them alive.  I find what they do to be very horrifying and disgusting and cruel.  Diane Hoffman

  14. Colleen Kelly

    Thank you, Mr. Lee for studying the horrific dog meat trade, and especially the extreme torture of cooking these innocent dogs and cats alive!  Please speak out to help these loving, helpless animals! Their torture is my torture! Bless you!

    Colleen Kelly


  15. Estie Kretschmer

    This is not a question of “telling another country how they should live”.

    If these were children being enslaved, the elderly being abused, homosexuals being persecuted etc etc we would feel it is in the best interest of the world as a whole and our collective consciousness to speak out. Not so?

    Then why is this different?
    Because they are “just animals”? Because we also have factory farms in our backyards?

    We also protest against those for the very same reasons! Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.
    Don’t hide behind the “own backyard” issue.

    Step up. Do the right thing.

    They have no voices. BE THEIR VOICE!

    It is your responsibility as a citizen of this world to ensure it becomes a place of compassion and respect for ALL forms of life.

    “The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.” ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

    1. Howard P

      a place of compassion and respect for ALL forms of life.

      Do you truly believe that?  Think deeply… if you truly do, there is another issue you should feel as strongly about… and it isn’t about dogs…

  16. Peter Wood

    I am opposed to eating all animals. That said, the South Korean dog meat industry is particularly brutal. Dogs are hung, boiled alive, and beaten to death. Don’t take my word for it visit koreandogs [dot] org. The leader of the group is Korean. Just in case anyone wants to start screaming about cultural insensitivity, imperialism, etc. Also, people have the right to speak out against cruelty no matter where they live and no matter where the cruelty is taking place. People who say otherwise remind me of folks in the American South during the civil rights era. The racists were always telling people from other parts of the country and the world to mind their own business. Cruelty to animals, oppression, etc is everyone’s business!

    1. Howard P

      First sentence… no problem…unless you want to apply that to me.

      Not a big meat eater, but one or twice a year, I want a steak… feel no guilt… have a hamburger ~ once a week… feel no guilt…

      Have chicken ~ once  a week… have food that is derived from beef  (processed meatballs) or chickens (eggs or meat) 2-3 times a week… feel no guilt…

      Fish,  I don’t particularly care for as a food, but was taught to eat food that was presented to me… salmon and trout are reasonably good…

      Am 6′ 1″, ~ 140 lbs… my blood cholesterol is very low…

      Will not eat nor support breeding dogs for food… but, please, stay out of my diet…


  17. Shirley Andersch

    THe DOG MEAT TRADE is HORRIFIC!!! Dogs have been household pets and  MANS BEST FRIEND for CENTURIES!!

    I would like the people who support the Dod Meat Trade to rethink!! Would YOU like to be skinned alive??? Would YOU like to b kept in a small cage, witness your “fellow friends” being boiled alive, hear their screams as they beg for mercy? Would YOU like to be piled one on top of the other for transport??? No air, broken limbs…biting each other in DESPERATION…trying to survive????

    You selfish people who sit back and say ” It’s not my business …it’s not my country! ” PLEASE WAKE UP! Every just and thinking person should fight for the rights of the suffering, those whose voice is not or cannot be heard. How selfish can you get????

    In our OWN countries we need to fight for animal rights too. Uncaring people DO NOTHING..they sit back and say “I’M okay Jack, pull up the ladder!” I find such people dispicable….

    In Korea there are enough people who are against the DOG MEAT TRADE. They need OUR SUPPORT. Animal abusers are a danger to society- they have no conscience, are perverted and cowardly. So for all you people out there who “don’t care” …that’s my opinion of YOU TOO!!!

    STAND UP AND FIGHT..NOT WITH BOMBS OR TERROR…but by making the world aware of what is going on in these contries. Most people are unaware of the situation!


  18. Teresa Bewsey

    Thankyou to mr Lee for covering the dog and cat meat trade. I really wouldnt want to be a sister city with a country that tortures animals.  This is the most barbric trade . I hope that you will continue to talk up for the voiceless.  We need to end this now. Asia is a disgrace to the world.

  19. Angelia Long

    No tradition that is cruel, evil and torturous should be continued. No matter your religion or the lack of, our advancement in civilization should be more than enough for us to stand firm against cruelty. Human kind must improve, and not be so fearful to be stuck in ignorance. Using the poor excuse of ‘Traditions’ to continue inhumane acts is nothing but the unwillingness to be a better person, and the cowardice of daring to speak up for the helpless.

  20. Susan Repp

    Tradition and culture can never be a blinding excuse for brutality wither towards humans or animals.  What was acceptable 100 years ago is not relatabe today, at one time foot binding, slavery, child labor, women’s suffrage was the norm, some things are still being faught today until totally removed. This is not east vs west but doing what is correct. Boycotting is not new, companies boycotted against slavery.

  21. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    Four  months ago in UC Davis
    UC Davis under investigation for lab animal deaths
    By Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle Updated 3:54 pm, Thursday, October 13, 2016
    Federal officials investigating UC Davis for repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act have recently found additional animal deaths, broken limbs and suffering of monkeys and rabbits through negligence.

    UC Davis received about $40 million last year in federal research grants, according to the National Institutes of Health.


  22. Eileen Samitz


    Thank you for taking the time to write this article and presenting the facts.  This sister city relationship should be severed until this barbaric practice is ended.  Sangju will have absolutely no incentive to end this animal cruelty, unless there are consequences. If and when they take action to end this barbaric practice, the relationship can be re-established. Davis would not hesitate to do this if there were human rights being violated in this, or any “sister city”. Not severing the relationship until this issue is addressed just basically makes Davis be part of it, or condoning this animal cruelty.

  23. Howard P

    Well, based  on some of the fervent concerns, looks like we should not only end sister city status, but ban all South Korean nationals from UCD and citizenship requests… that might actually send a “message” on how terrible the dog-meat trade is… perhaps we should have the CC petition the new President to withdraw all US troops from So Korea, and pointedly tell them we will not defend them if No Korea, China, whoever, attack them… now THAT might be an effective message… save the dogs!

    Rest assured, if North Korea overtakes South Korea, they’ll put an end to the dog-meat trade…

  24. Martina Ci

    “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” I think this concept need to be apply to all living beings.

    South Korea has the world’s 14th largest economy and is home to global brands such as Samsung, Hyundai, Kia, LG, SK, and Daewoo. Yet this is also a country where an estimated 2.5 million dogs and thousands of cats are slaughtered and eaten each year in unimaginable brutal ways. In 2017 I simply can not and will not accept it. So, thank you Mr.Lee to write of this campaign , please contact them to urge them to ban the illegal dog meat industry or maybe cancelling your affiliation with Sanjiu to send a clear  message that this abomination isn’t tolerated. I did the same with the mayor of my city (Florence – Italy).






    1. Howard P

      If you believe that, let’s go national, and go the full monte… no South Korea visas, students, airline flights, pull our troops out, no trade… Davis sister city thing is “spitting in the ocean”… get real… go for it all, or…

  25. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    Eleven countries around the globe still eat dog meat. They are: China, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Polynesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Arctic and Antarctic and two cantons in Switzerland.
    China: Although the Chinese were the first to domesticate the dog and keep them as pets, dog meat has been a source of food from at least the time of Confucius, and possibly even before.
    Indonesia: Eating dog meat is usually associated with people from the Batak Toba culture, who cook a traditional dish named saksang that is like a dog-meat stew.
    Mexico: Dogs were historically bred for their meat by the Aztecs. These dogs were called itzcuintlis, and were often pictured on pre-Columbian Mexican pottery.
    Philippines: In the capital city of Manila,the law specifically prohibits the killing and selling of dogs for food except in certain circumstances including research and animal population control.
    Polynesia: Dogs were historically eaten in Tahiti and other islands of Polynesia at the time of first European contact in 1769.
    Taiwan: Dog meat in Taiwan is particularly eaten in the winter months, especially black dogs, which are believed to help retain body warmth.
    Korea: Gaegogi literally means ‘dog meat’ in Korean. Gaegogi, however, is often mistaken as the term for Korean soup made from dog meat, bosintang. The distaste felt by dog lovers, particularly from the West, has made this dish very controversial.
    Switzerland: According to a Swiss newspaper report in 1996, the Swiss rural cantons of Appenzell and St. Gallen are known to have had a tradition of eating dogs, curing dog meat into jerky and sausages, as well as using the lard for medicinal purposes.
    Vietnam: Dog meat is eaten throughout Vietnam. To many Northerners, it is a popular, if relatively expensive, dinnertime restaurant meal.
    Arctic and Antarctic: Dogs have historically been an emergency food source for various peoples in Siberia, Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland. Sled dogs are usually maintained for pulling sleds, but occasionally are eaten when no other food is available.

    Source: Daily mail

  26. Giny Woo

    Dear Mr. Lee,
    Thank you so much for writing this thoughtful commentary.  The cruelty inflicted on these animals in the South Korean dog and cat meat industry is beyond what words can express and brings shame to our humanity. South Korean government is very good at taking the heat and doing nothing to change.  So, we need many caring people from all over the world to speak out and take action against this horrific and illegal trade in order to put  heavy pressure on the South Korean government.  
    So we thank you for caring and, hope that your city will join the growing number of cities which have taken action to urge their counterpart in Korea to enforce the law.  Their participation is already making a difference.  You can find more information about our Sister City/Friendship City Campaigns here:

    Thank you!

  27. Clay Baumung

    We need to STOP turning a blind eye to blatant horrific cruelty. Tradition is absolutely NO excuse to burn dogs alive, skin dogs alive, cutting paws off alive, feeding the dogs human waste to live on. Its 2017 for God’s sakes. This behaviour and down right EVIL actions are completely unforgiveable. Whether pets or not, these dogs are living beings with high emotional needs and experience tremendous physical pain just like you and I do.

  28. Joanna Dunne

    It is not  a matter of tradition or telling people what to do. It is about ending the evil inflicted upon these innocent sentient loving creatures just so people can eat them. People who claim it is tradition or that we should not be telling other countries what to do, need to watch the videos of the torture and killings, read about it and really ask themselves if they think it is right to torture and murder animals in their millions. This is not tradition or culture but blatant, barbaric sickening cruelty beyond belief. It must end now.

  29. Matt Palm

    Let’s ask them to ban this stuff at the city level. Is there a way to do that? Like hey we have been doing work around animal cruelty in the United States and Davis, as home to the worlds top Vet school, wants to work with our sister cities to end cruelty to animals.


Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for