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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 15:40 GMT
S Korea dog meat row deepens
Caged dogs bred for meat, Vietnam, AFP
Dog meat soup is popular in South Korea
Eating dogs has nothing to do with football's governing body Fifa, South Korea's top soccer official has said.

Chung Mong-Joon, a Fifa vice president and head of the Korea Football Association, was speaking out after Fifa condemned the mistreatment of dogs ahead of next year's World Cup, which South Korea is co-hosting with Japan.

I don't understand why Fifa has raised the issue itself

Chung Mong-Joon
Fifa president Sepp Blatter wrote to Mr Chung last week calling for "immediate and decisive measures" against cruelty.

South Korea banned dog restaurants during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but spicy dog soup is still very popular in summertime, especially among older men.

Mr Chung said there was no need for Fifa to get involved.

"I don't understand why Fifa has raised the issue itself," he told journalists. "I sent a response letter at that time, saying there is nothing to worry about."

Torture banned

Mr Chung quoted another Fifa vice president, Issa Hayatou, as saying South Korea had a long tradition of eating dog meat and that it would not change overnight.

Caged dogs, BBC
South Korea has laws against animal cruelty
Dog meat is widely considered to improve strength and virility.

Under methods now officially banned, dogs used to be hanged or beaten with bats to soften the flesh before slaughter. They are now killed instantly by electrocution.

But Fifa - backed by animal rights activists - says many dogs are still being tortured.

Owners of dog meat restaurants support the need for ending cruelty to animals, but see nothing wrong with eating dogs.

"It's my country's own food culture, so South Koreans will continue to eat dog meat no matter what other countries say against it," said Park Seo-ho, the owner of a dog meat restaurant in Sungnam, south of the capital Seoul.

Fifa made its appeal last week, saying it had received thousands of letters from members of the public.

"The World Cup would serve as an appropriate moment for Korea to show the world that it is sensitive to vociferous worldwide public opinion and that it rejects cruelty," Mr Blatter said in a statement.

South Korea and Japan are hosting the 64-match World Cup finals from 31 May to 30 June next year.

Andreas Herran, FIFA
"Many people in South Korea don't see this situation in the same way"

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See also:

06 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fifa warns S Korea over dog meat
02 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan bans dog meat
29 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
No dogs on Seoul menus
17 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
South Korea's dog day
11 Mar 99 | World
Dogs 'blow-torched' alive
05 Aug 98 | Asia-Pacific
Koreans arrested over dog soup
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