Leafleting and Informational Event on South Korean Dog Meat Trade – August 17, 2014 – San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf
What a great turnout of volunteers we had at San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf! We definitely set the record in terms of the number of volunteers who showed up to help speak out loudly against the horrendous South Korean Dog and Cat Meat cruelty. That was so encouraging and comforting for our organizer, who has been managing these events in San Francisco for the last couple of years.
Our event was from 11am to 4pm and the day was full of memorable moments, conversations, encouragements and raising awareness. Many thanks to Don, Daniela, Orso the Golden Retriever (his name means “Bear” in Italian), John, Lucia, Liliana, Giny, Stephanie, Jean, Pat, Priya, Julia, and Geri, who all made the day possible. Orso, with his calm and loving personality, was a hit with everyone young and old and stole the hearts of many people walking by. He helped us to show why eating animals like him is wrong, unnecessary, cruel, and destructive to the human soul. Because of everyone’s compassionate hearts and dedication to ending the unimaginable suffering of the Korean dogs, we had a very productive day of campaigning. All of the volunteers are awesome and we are truly grateful for each and every one of them.
I would like to especially thank my wonderful husband for spending countless hours making display stands out of PVC pipe to comply with Fisherman’s Wharf’s rule. We showcased our new campaign t-shirts with our logo on the front and back with the messages “Man’s Best Friend Is Not Food!” and ”잔인한 악습, 개식용은 이제그만!” (“Please stop the cruel dog meat consumption!” in Korean). We gave each of the volunteers a new t-shirt as a thank you gift and also sold, at cost, one dozen t-shirts to supporters so they can continue to raise awareness about the Korean Dog Meat Cruelty while wearing our t-shirts.
We had fantastic San Francisco weather on this day – sunny with a gentle breeze – and a great flow of visitor traffic as the summer vacation season was still in full swing. We handed out more than 1,200 leaflets and talked to countless people from all around the world including France, Mexico, Spain, China, UK, Australia, Israel, and of course Americans from across the states visiting this most famous and visited San Francisco landmark. 160 people signed our petition, addressed to South Korean President Geun-Hye Park, on the spot and many more promised to sign our petitions online. We will send these petition signatures to President Park once again and will continue to collect and send our petitions to her as long as it takes.
A lot of the people we talked to expressed their shock and disbelief at learning how an industrialized and wealthy nation like South Korea, home of such familiar global brands as Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia, and SK, is still continuing this barbaric and cruel practice in the 21st century. They had a hard time comprehending how this brutality against man’s best friend can be allowed to take place in a country that is outwardly modern and its people seemingly friendly and highly educated. Their disappointment towards South Korea and their distress in learning about the horrible plight of these animals was clearly communicated to us across many different languages; the expressions on their faces said it all.
We often get a lot of encouragement from people thanking us for standing up for these animals, which is very gratifying. We also get some angry reactions, usually from Koreans and Korean Americans. Dealing with people who are angry about our presence and who feel they are being unfairly criticized comes with the territory. In these cases, we try to make them understand our purpose but if they don’t, or if they refuse to acknowledge our point of view, the best way to minimize their disruption is by asking them to leave as politely and non-confrontationally as possible.
On this particular day a group of about eight Korean tourists in their 50s to 60s approached our Korean volunteer and expressed their complaints. One woman from the group said, “This is not the right way to protest. Take this all down! I don’t eat dog meat. (난 개 안먹어. 이건 진짜 아니야.) You are turning against your own country by doing this. You are damaging our image and status at a time when we are trying so hard to build it up. You must be doing this because you want to become famous.” When our Korean volunteer sincerely asked the woman to please help stop the dog meat consumption in Korea, she got even more defensive. She stepped closer to our volunteer and said with an even louder voice, ”Take it down! We will be back again tomorrow and we’d better not find you here.” A second woman from the group chimed in, “Let’s take a photo of her and post it on the internet”. We told her that we are already taking photos of our volunteers and posting them online. When another volunteer stepped forward to make sure everything was okay, the Korean women backed off and the group eventually walked away but not before one of the men repeated basically the same message the women were expressing earlier. Our volunteer earnestly asked him, as well, to please help stop the dog meat consumption in South Korea when he returns home. Running into us so unexpectedly, exposing their not so-proud practice with graphic and disturbing images in one of the most famous tourists spots in the world, must be embarrassing and damaging to their egos. However, how does that compare to the suffering that these animals are forced to endure because of the profound indifference of these Koreans? If they feel what we are doing is not the right way, then what is the right way to campaign? What can we do to make them stop killing and eating dogs? In retrospect, that would have been a great question to ask.
In the morning as we were setting up, another Korean woman asked us why we were only picking on Korea when there are other countries where dogs are eaten. We explained that our group’s focus is specifically on stopping the South Korean dog meat trade, and there are other groups whose focus is on stopping the dog meat trade in other countries. She didn’t ask anything else and just walked away. We see a lot of Koreans and Korean Americans walking past our displays with expressions of surprise to find us there but without approaching us.
“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.” ~ Jane Goodall
Anyone can take action to give a voice to the Korean dogs. If you live in the US and would like to organize an event in your city or simply want to hand out our leaflets to your friends, family, and neighbors, contact us and we would be happy to send you our campaign leaflets absolutely free. Campaign materials can also be sent outside the US, but at this time free shipping is available only to US residents due to the high cost of shipping to other countries. Please accept our apologies and our thanks!