Ahead of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games, officials in host city Pyeongchang, South Korea, have ordered the area’s restaurants to temporarily stop serving dog meat.
Citing customer demand, however, all but two of those businesses have opted to continue offering the widely condemned delicacy throughout the games.
As AFP reported, some locals believe dog meat increases energy. More than 1 million dogs are believed to be killed for their meat annually in South Korea.
For those who demand that meat, the government-imposed restriction has led to an ongoing backlash by business owners. Even with the promise of a subsidy for those in compliance with the order, the majority would rather defy it to continue selling the dish.
The order reportedly does not come with the force of law, but does offer a subsidy to business owners who comply with the ban.
“We’ve faced a lot of complaints from restaurant owners that we are threatening their livelihood,” said Pyeongyang County government spokesperson Lee Yong-bae.
Authorities have also attempted to restrict advertising for dog-based dishes, he said, adding that such signs give “a bad impression to foreigners.”
A number of commonly advertised soups containing dog meat, including boshintang, yeongyangtang and sacheoltang, have been replaced on restaurant signs with options like yeomsotang, a goat soup.
Such efforts to dissuade the sale of dog meat are not uncommon in South Korea in the period before the nation hosts a major international event. The country has officially declared dog meat, as well as snake meat, “detestable,” though that also provides no legal mechanism to curtail their sale.
In addition to government efforts, activists behind a number of online campaigns have organized supporters of an Olympic boycott based on the nation’s practice of butchering dogs for their meat. Many activists are also encouraging protests in the capital city of Seoul.
Even among South Koreans, dog meat remains a divisive issue. Largely along generational lines, it is increasingly seen as forbidden. The status of dogs across the nation has changed as well, with more people seeing them as pets as opposed to livestock.
Many primarily older citizens, however, remain committed to consuming the taboo meat as they always have.
Of the dozen restaurants in the district known to serve dog meat, all but two were reportedly still serving it as of Thursday, just a day before the Olympic opening ceremony.
Some restaurant owners said they attempted to replace the banned meat with alternatives, but found it did not satisfy demand.
Lee said a number of businesses “initially shifted to selling port or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply.”
In short order, he said most of the restaurants “switched back to dog meat” in an effort to recapture that lost revenue.
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