A number of actresses including Kim Basinger and Priscilla Presley gathered in Los Angeles on Tuesday to protest South Korea’s dog meat industry, with some even holding dead dogs to bring attention to their cause.
Basinger and Presley were joined by actress Donna D’Errico and voice actress E.G. Daily in a protest held outside the consulate of South Korea in Los Angeles, USA Today reports.
Presley was one of many demonstrators who held a dead dog in her arms, while Basinger held a sign reading “Stop Dog Meat” over a graphic photo of skinned dogs hanging from hooks in a slaughterhouse.
Last Chance For Animals and their South Korean sister organization, Animal Liberation Wave (ALW), organized the Los Angeles event, and held two other protests in Washington D.C. and Seoul, South Korea on the same day. As they explained on their website, the groups are protesting the dog meat trade in South Korea, which they claim continues to thrive thanks to a legal loophole in Korean law that classifies dogs both as companion animals and livestock.
Two million dogs are reportedly killed for food every year in South Korea, and more than 100,000 metric tons of dog meat are consumed annually, according to the Animal Welfare Institute. The animals are kept in dog farms, often in cramped cages stacked on top of each other, according to the Institute. The dogs are sometimes slaughtered in full view of the other dogs, and may be intentionally terrorized prior to being killed due to a traditional belief that experiencing high levels of adrenaline will make the animal’s meat more tender.
Chris DeRose, president of Last Chance For Animals, explained the inclusion of the dead dogs in the Los Angeles protests in an email to USA Today. The organization received the carcasses from a local animal shelter and later cremated them, according to DeRose.
“The dogs represented those that are routinely tortured before they are hung, beaten, electrocuted or boiled alive on South Korean dog meat farms,” reads DeRose’s statement. “The purpose for using the dogs was to draw attention and encourage compassion for dogs as companion animals, regardless of what label South Korea puts on them.”
South Korea’s dog meat industry was thrust into the national spotlight prior to the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, when animal rights activists tried, and largely failed, to get the government to ban the sale and consumption of dog meat during the games.
The stereotype that “Asians eat dogs” is increasingly politicized, like when an Oregon senate hopeful suggested that Vietnamese refugees would “harvest” people’s pets — and beyond the arguments that only a small percentage actually eat dogs, one must also consider a degree of cultural relativism.
[Photo: Priscilla Presley and Kim Basinger attend a protest in Los Angeles Tuesday against the South Korea dog meat trade on July 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. By Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]