The 2018 Winter Olympics are here, but not without a little bit of added controversy. All eyes are on Pyeongchang, South Korea, as they host the top professional athletes worldwide, in their state-of-the-art facilities. When it comes to dining, there has been a compliance issue that has seen restaurants continue to sell controversial dishes, despite orders from the government to stop.
Officials have been aiming to put an end to restaurants serving dog meat dishes. Of the 12 restaurants currently serving it, only two have complied with local authorities, according to Channel News Asia. Authorities have offered subsidies in exchange for eliminating the dish off the menu during the Olympic games, but many restaurants have ignored the request, as they feel it could threaten their businesses.
Restaurant owners have been faced with a dilemma, being asked to compromise their menu. Park Young-ae, who has a restaurant called Young Hoon located close to the Olympic stadium said, according to CBS News: “I have been selling dog meat for decades. It is really difficult for me to change my menu just because of the Olympics.”
In Korea and many parts of Asia, eating dog meat is a common and legal practice despite activists opposing the consumption and trying to ban it entirely. In South Korea, dog meat dishes are called “gaegogi”, and according to a USA Today report, there are thousands of restaurants currently selling it still, with elders mostly consuming it as it is said to have strengthening and medicinal properties.
Pyeongchang County officials have put forth millions of dollars towards westernizing amenities in the area, including providing foreign-language menus at local restaurants, bathrooms, and kitchen and dining areas, however, there are many business owners who don’t agree with having to accommodate the foreigners.
Government official Lee Yong-bae told AFP that they had been receiving pushback from restaurants that serve dog meat, with complaints that suggest they are “threatening their livelihood.” Channel News Asia reports that upon shifting to selling pork or other meats, sales plunged sharply for some restaurants, which ultimately switched back to dog meat.
Addressing the matter, the 2018 Olympic organizing committee told USA Today: “We are aware of the international concern around the consumption of dog meat in Korea. This is a matter which the government should address,” proclaiming that they hope the issue doesn’t impact the delivery or reputation of the games and the province.
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