Do Koreans Really Eat Dog?

Food Stall in Myeondong Market
Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Whenever Korean food is discussed, someone invariably brings up the question of whether dog is actually cooked and served in Korea. The answer is, it depends on where in Korea or Asia one lives and the regional practices.

The Yes Camp

Yes, some Korean people do eat dog meat. It seems to be popular among a certain group of older gentlemen for its supposed power to enhance stamina and virility.

There are a couple traditional dishes made out of dog meat (the most common is a stew known as boshintang).

Dog also is eaten in other parts of East and South Asia, including certain regions of China and the Philippines.

There are some records of people eating it thousands of years ago in Korea when the country was extremely impoverished.

However, it is not a regular part of Korean cuisine. It typically isn't served in one's home but there are specialty “dog meat” restaurants in Korea where it is advertised on signs in the eatery's windows. 

The No Camp

Even though a fair number of Koreans (anywhere from 5 to 30% depending on whom you ask) may have tried it before, it is only a very small percentage of the population that eats it regularly.

There is a large and vocal group of Korean people that are against the practice of eating dog meat and want the South Korean government to enforce the laws in place that made dog meat illegal.

A Divided Issue

There also is a large population of people in South Korea that doesn't eat or enjoy the meat but feels strongly that it is the right of others to do so.

There's a smaller but still vocal group of pro-dog cuisine people in South Korea who want to popularize the consumption of dog in Korea and the rest of the world. So even Koreans are divided on the issue.