Korean-American actor Daniel Henney has taken time out of his filming schedule to support a campaign in South Korea close to his heart – protecting dogs from the dog meat trade. The ‘Criminal Minds’ actor stars alongside Clint, a dog rescued from a dog meat farm, in a new advertising poster hitting the Seoul subway this week calling for all dogs to be treated with compassion. The campaign for Humane Society International will also see a PSA video of Henney and Clint launch across social media, as well as a revealing interview in which the star talks fondly of his love for canine ‘best friend’ Mango. The campaign is timed to hit during the hottest days of summer in July and August, known as the Bok Nal days, when the majority of dog meat is eaten in South Korea.
In his video interview with HSI, Henney talks about his dog Mango, a 14-year old golden retriever. Mango is originally from South Korea where more than 2.5 million dogs a year are bred and killed on thousands of dog meat farms for human consumption. Henney said: “Mango is from Korea and I only speak Korean with her and although she’s been very fortunate, she didn’t have to live a difficult life, she just as easily could have. So I think in my personal opinion every dog out there in Korea is my Mango and they deserve to live a life like she has, they all deserve to be a companion, to be loved because they all have that potential to be amazing like she is.”
Henney also reflects on when he was first confronted by the dog meat trade, whilst filming in Korea in 2007. He said: “I looked down this road and it’s a row of restaurants, and each restaurant in front they all have these bins or cages. And they had dogs inside of them, probably 20 dogs in each cage just piled on top of each other. The restaurant owners come out one by one, open the top of the bin, rip out a dog and take them into the restaurant clearly to be butchered, killed, slaughtered. I didn’t know what I’d seen and it was very affecting to me.”
Humane Society International has rescued more than 800 dogs, including golden retrievers just like Mango, as part of its ongoing campaign to see an end to the industry. Working in co-operation with dog farmers keen to get out of the trade, HSI has so far permanently closed down eight dog farms where dogs are confined their whole lives in barren metal cages with little food or protection from the harsh climate. The charity plans its ninth dog farm closure in mid July.
Henney’s campaign co-star, Clint, is a Tosa rescued by the HSI team in 2015. He was languishing on a dog meat farm in Chungcheongnamdo along with 119 other dogs. If not for HSI, Clint would have ended up at one of South Korea’s live dog markets or slaughterhouses where his grim fate would have been to be killed by electrocution for meat. HSI hopes that seeing Henney with Clint and hearing him talk about his love of all dogs, will prompt South Koreans to rethink the common misconception of ‘dog meat’ dogs as stupid and soulless.
Nara Kim for HSI said: “Daniel and Clint are the perfect partnership for our efforts to end the cruel dog meat trade. Clint’s photo will be seen by millions of people across Seoul, representing the millions of dogs not as lucky as him to have escaped the cruelty. Every dog on a dog meat farm is as special as Clint, capable of being loving and loyal friends if only given the chance. Daniel is helping us spread that message of compassion to change hearts and minds.”
Henny’s posters are the first of a raft of public awareness raising initiatives that HSI will be rolling out in South Korea across the summer. You can support their campaign by signing their global petition. Together with local partner group Korea Animal Rights Advocates, HSI is calling on the South Korean government to end the dog meat trade for good – sign in English here or sign in Korean here.
HSI believes that no culture in any country, East or West, must ever be used as an excuse for cruelty. More and more South Koreans want a new culture of compassion and are challenging the so-called tradition of dog meat. Whilst dog meat consumption remains contentious, a growing animal protection movement within the country is rightly opposing traditional practices that cause animal suffering. Change is coming from within South Korea and HSI supports that change, actively partnering with South Korean animal protection groups.
- Most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dogs, and the practice is increasingly out of favour with the younger generation who is rejecting dog meat.
- During the Bok Nal days, 70-80 percent of dog meat is eaten in South Korea, mainly as a peppery soup called bosintang that is believed to improve stamina and virility.
- Most people in South Korea never visit a dog meat farm and are unaware of the suffering experienced by the dogs. HSI is keen to dispel the widespread misconception that farmed dogs are somehow different in nature to companion dogs.
- There are an estimated 17,000 dog meat farms in South Korea, breeding more than 2.5 million dogs annually.
- In addition to their life of suffering on the farm, the method used to kill the dogs is brutal – death by electrocution is most common, with dogs usually taking up to five minutes to die, although there have been instances of dogs taking up to 20 minutes to die. Hanging is also common. Dogs are killed in full view of the other dogs, and their final moments will be terrifying and extremely painful.
- The dog meat industry is in legal limbo in South Korea, neither legal nor illegal. Many provisions of the Animal Protection Act are routinely breached, such as the ban on killing animals in a brutal way including hanging by the neck, killing in public areas or in front of other animals of the same species.
For more information on our campaign visit hsi.org/dogmeat