A flavor out of favor: Dog meat fades in S. Korea
There is no official data on the dog meat industry, but people who raise dogs as livestock or supply dog meat to diners say its consumption is in decline.
Butcher Shin Jang-gun who supplies dog cuts to restaurants said the number of merchants in the dog meat trading business has shrunk to half of what it was. He keeps a list of between 700 and 800 restaurants in Seoul, some current and others potential clients, and believes there was once more than 1,500.
His father sold only dog meat for several decades. After Shin inherited the butcher shop in southern Seoul in 2002, he added goat meat to offset declining dog meat sales.
"Dog is not an industry with a long-term future," Shin said. "New generations don’t eat a lot."
Choi Young-im, secretary general of an association of dog farmers, said dog meat, which used to be most popular after beef, pork and chicken, has been overtaken by duck but will remain a fixture on menus.
Choi estimated between 2 million and 2.5 million dogs are consumed in South Korea each year.
With one fewer dog meat restaurant in downtown Seoul, Oh feels sad that young people are losing touch with the tradition.
"Even now when I see young people at my restaurant, I feel so happy," she said.