개식용 종식 시리즈 전문
BTS와 갤럭시, 그리고 개고기. 최고 수준의 팝문화와 첨단 테크널러지를 동시에 보유한 나라는 손꼽을 정도다. 거기에 세계인의 혐오대상인 개고기가 병존하는 나라는 한국뿐이다.
물론 개고기를 먹는 나라는 한국뿐이 아니다. 휴메인 소사이어티 인터내셔널(HSI)은 아시아에서 도축되는 개가 한 해 약 3000만 마리에 달한다고 추정한다. 이 가운데 1000만 마리가 중국에서 도축돼 소비된다. 한국의 경우 이에 훨씬 못 미치는 100만 마리 이하다. 그런데도 한국이 유독 손가락질을 받는다. 개고기 관습을 남겨둔 유일한 선진국이기 때문이다.
한국에서도 개고기 종식 공론화는 이미 시작됐다. 문재인 전 대통령은 2021년 9월 “개 식용 금지를 신중히 검토할 때가 됐다”고 말했다. 이에 따라 관계부처 TF가 구성돼 지금도 가동 중이다. 정황근 농림축산식품부 장관도 지난 5월 취임사에서 “사회적 합의를 토대로 개 식용 종식을 위한 로드맵을 제시하겠다”고 했다. 여기에 윤석열 대통령 부인 김건희 여사의 개 식용 종식론이 더해졌다. 김 여사는 6월 12일 인터뷰에서 “경제 규모가 있는 나라 중 개를 먹는 곳은 한국과 중국뿐”이라고 말했다.
개고기 종식에 관한 한 전현 정부의 입장이 같다. 초당적 이슈로 합의를 도출한다면 그 어느 때보다 실효성 있는 조치가 나올 가능성이 큰 상황이다. 개고기 종식, 이젠 1인치쯤 남았다 해도 과언이 아니다. 〈미주중앙일보는 개고기에 대한 국제적 혐오감이 얼마나 큰지, 그 때문에 한국인이 얼마나 불필요한 비용을 지출하는지, 한국에서 구출된 개들은 어떻게 해외로 입양되는지 등을 시리즈로 심층보도할 예정입니다.〉
다음은 케빈 브라이트 감독이 미주 중앙일보에 보낸 편지 원문이다.
Korean Central Daily
Five years have passed since I began shooting Nureongi, my documentary on the dog meat industry in South Korea. After releasing Nureongi on YouTube and 750,000 views later, there has been little change in Korean law regarding Dog Meat.
I was hopeful when a Dog Meat Task Force of Activists and Dog Farmers was formed in 2021 to find a solution to the issues around the dog meat trade. Unfortunately, the animosity between the two groups was so strong that a meaningful dialogue on resolution has not yet been achieved. Now after two years of COVID restrictions, Koreans are returning to normality and dog meat is very much back in the conversation.
While commenting on South Korea’s relationship with industrialized nations around the world, First Lady, Gunhee Kim recently said “Dog meat consumption clearly causes anti-Korean perception.” It reminded me of a question many Koreans asked me while filming Nureongi - what was my own opinion of the dog meat industry?
My answer was always neutral. I felt staying unbiased was important to showing both sides fairly in a film on the issue of dog meat. But, from the First Lady’s comments, I realized my research making Nureongi and experience speaking to South Korean and Korean American audiences over the last several years qualified me to contribute to the conversation.
One of the main arguments of the dog meat trade is the difference between companion dogs and meat dogs. Over my 4 years making Nuerongi in South Korea, I visited dog farms over a dozen times. As I passed the cages the dogs were coming to the front sticking their tongues out to kiss, their paws out to touch, yearning for any tiny piece of human contact. More plainly, they behaved like dogs. Thousands just like them have been adopted into loving homes In Europe and the United States. There is no such thing as a meat dog, just dog.
Why do we love dogs so much? No other companion animal has been so thoroughly integrated into human society as dogs. They are our sentinels, our shepherds, and our hunting partners. Dogs provide service to people with disabilities and are workers for farmers, police, and the military. They are even COVID detectors! My Nuerongi are two of the smartest, most loyal and loving dogs we have ever had in our home.
In 2020, almost a third of all households in South Korea had a companion animal. The overwhelming majority of those homes had a dog. This is rapidly affecting how Koreans feel about the dog meat industry.
South Korea has never been more front and center in the world than today. Korea has produced award-winning entertainment with great films and TV shows like Parasite and Squid Games. BTS has conquered the music industry worldwide. LG and Samsung are major forces in technology, while Kia, Genesis and Hyundai are mainstays in the automotive industry. Despite these accomplishments and having the 6th largest economy in the world, Korea remains the only industrialized nation with a legally sanctioned dog meat industry.
Both the previous and current administrations are against dog meat consumption as is most of the Korean population. However, to dismantle the dog meat trade involves a thoughtful, pro-active process. Banning dog meat may be a complicated issue, but it is a foregone conclusion that the industry is in decline and the majority of the population want it banned.
Dog meat is a business in Korea and like all business, it is based on the laws of supply and demand. Business can also become out of step with the times and the people. With the July Boknal approaching, the Korean people are at a crossroad with the dog meat trade. I believe the time has come for the end of dog meat to begin.