Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Park Wan-suh no fan of boshintang?

(Image from Wikipedia)

I gather that Park Wan-suh doesn't much care for dog soup, or any other dish that uses dog meat, or perhaps she simply doesn't like the method of slaughter, for here's what she says of her time living outside the gates of northwestern Seoul on a hillside in the neighborhood of Hyŏnjŏ-dong near Mount Inwang:
A dreary, brutal atmosphere hung over Mount Inwang through the summer. Only toward the end of the monsoon did water trickle down into the valley.

The path that led up to the shaman shrine was lined on both sides with a stone wall. Off on one side, a sparse thicket remained. Toward dusk, the cries of dogs being clubbed to death drifted down from this area. Boys would rush in swarms toward the forest at these heart-rending yelps, their eyes glinting with excitement. A straw-plaited cord dangled from a tree where the hounds were hung and bludgeoned. The smell of roasted dog meat lingering about the place made the bare ugliness of the forest frightening and revolting.
The slaughter of animals is never a lovely scene. Growing up in the rural Ozarks, I've played my own role in slaughtering chickens and pigs. I recall an uncle and his father-in-law killing a hog with a 22 caliber bullet to its head when I was no more than about five years old, and I have a vivid image of personally wringing a hen's neck on my paternal grandmother's farm when I was probably about nine. But the point was always to get the killing done as quickly and painlessly as possible.

That isn't generally the case with the slaughter of dogs in Korea. The bludgeoning described above by Park Wan-suh supposedly enhances dog meat's quality as a 'tonic', a life-enhancing souce of what the Chinese call "qi." The longer the bludgeoning, the greater the "qi."

Some Koreans -- perhaps even many -- deny that this method of slaughter by bludgeoning exists. One very bright student of mine when I taught at Hanshin University wrote an entire essay to deny that such a slaughtering technique is used. But it is used, as the passage above demonstrates. When my family and I lived in Osan-City, we could hear the whining yelps of dogs being bludgeoned to death farther up in the wooded valley from our apartment on the outer limits of Osan.

I have no particular objection to those Koreans who want to eat dog meat, and my Cherokee ancestors undoubtedly ate the stuff as well, but it's one Korean dish that I refuse to even taste because I know how brutally the dogs are intentionally slaughtered.

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At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I don't know Professor.

Seems a perfectly reliable substitute for Accent (a US "meat tenderizer"). And I distinctly remember several occasions when the guy who wielded the "bolt gun" in the slaughterhouse, neighboring the field seperating the "water treatment plant" from the Fulton County Hospital had to chase down several particularly hard-headed beefers in order to "bolt 'em again."

And anyway - after the slaughtering was done - was it not recognized that sometimes people were know to lay a piece of meat out and beat it?

I think that is the "Secret of the Universe."

Herschel D.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The universe still has many secrets, Herschel, though fewer with every passing Gypsy Scholar day . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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