Dog Soup and Korea

by Jason -- May 17, 2011

People have always joked to me that Koreans eat dog. There have been many times when I told people that I lived in Korea and the first question they’ve asked is, how many times did you eat dog? Having lived in Korea well over 7 months (including last year) and never actually having seen a Dog restaurant, I thought it was a myth. I assumed it was North Koreans who ate dog, giving South Koreans a bad name. It turns out, I was wrong.

Last week I found out how to say Dog Soup in Korean (보신탕) and have now found 2 places within a 5-minute walk of my apartment that serve it. One is a hole-in-the-wall that was actually on my list to try (I’m a sucker for hole-in-the-wall restaurants).

The irony of this place is amazing. As you walk towards the restaurant you pass an animal store with adorable puppies sitting in the window ready to be purchased. Literally 2 doors down and around the corner…dog soup restaurant.

I wonder if the puppy salesmen ever gets desperate to make a sale and says, “Today’s the last day for this little guy. Unfortunately he’s getting old and we’re going to send him next door…unless you can take him off of our hands” while gesturing towards the dog soup restaurant.

The real question of the day is, do I try dog? I’m pretty tempted…just to say I have.

Random Additional Fact: In Korean, dogs say “Mung, Mung” — instead of the English equivalent “Bow-wow” or “Bark, Bark”. The nickname for Dog Soup is then of course “Mung, Mung Soup”.

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22 Responses to “Dog Soup and Korea”

  1. I only wish I hadn’t read this while eating.

  2. Oy. I’ll be going to Korea in July. (I’ve been preparing for the adventure by reading through your blog. Thanks for the information and advice!) And, I’m pretty bold when it comes to trying new things. More power to you if you taste the dog soup, but I don’t think I could ever.

  3. as open minded as I want to be about this, its still slightly disturbing. but then again, people have pet pigs here and bacon and ham are wonderful. I think its just more disturbing that there is a puppy store near by :(

  4. I had a friend that visited his family in China when he was 6 for the summer. His family had a cat. After about a week my friend and the cat became friends and they enjoyed playing together. One day he was drinking soup and he asked his aunt where the cat was and the aunt replied “It is in the soup”.

  5. @Joe — haha..perfect timing!

    @Lindsay — Coming for vacation or work? Get in touch when you get here.

    @Holly — Good point…but I’d argue pigs are not nearly as cute or awesome as puppies.

    @Rishi — That’s an awesome story. I’ve heard a similar story with a pet rabbit.

  6. Jason.. agreed. Although i watched a recent episode of “its me or the dog” and they were training a pigglet and that pig was soooo cute! :) still… i can’t imagine eating brody :) GL with what you decide!! Im so curious!!!

  7. But have YOU try the mung mung soup? that is the question.

  8. Holly, I wouldnt want to eat brody eather, He dosent look that tasty. Hahaha

  9. I recommend NOT eating dog soup. From what I’ve both read and heard from friends, they way they kill and prepare the dog is brutal. It’s up to you, of course, but I’d suggest at least researching how they treat and kill the dogs before supporting them with your business. Anyways, there’s plenty of other weird stuff to try here! ;)

    p.s. I also live in Korea. Annyeong-haseo!

  10. @Holly — I’ll keep you updated.

    @Tearsa — Nope, I haven’t tried it yet, I was considering it, but Odyssseus below brings up a good point.

    @Yeong — Haha, I disagree :-).

    @Odysseus — 안녕하세요! That’s interesting, I hadn’t heard that before. With all of the pet dogs you see around, you would assume that they would be treated decently. But good point, I may have to reconsider trying it.

  11. You considered it? I am pretty sure that dog is not kosher. What’s next, are you gonna eat a baby?

  12. @Eric — Yeah, still am. You actually got me curious if dog’s were Kosher. I looked it up, you’re right they’re not.

  13. Lucky is going to pee on you when you get back if you eat dog. Are babies kosher?

  14. Haha, I’ll make sure to weigh that when I’m making the decision.

  15. Try Yong Yang Tang (영양탕) some time. It’s dog alright, but it’s eaten much like you’d eat Sam Gyup Sal or Duck… with the leaves, the lettuce, the bean paste and all those other garnishing goodies.

  16. Interesting…thanks for the recommendation. I had no idea there were multiple variations of dog.

  17. Are there different kinds of mung mung soup? Sorry if that was an insensitive question, but I am curious…

  18. Haha…definitely not an insensitive question. To be honest, I’m not sure. The only soup I know that’s dog soup is the one in this picture. I’m guessing there are other varieties though. If I find out, I’ll let you know!

  19. Ooh, I was just in Korea for 3 weeks and didn’t see any dog soup restaurants…then again, it probably wouldn’t say it in english anyways. I like trying new foods…but don’t think I could eat dog because i own one and the soup would make me think of him… in it.

  20. It’s funny, I’ve lived practically next door to this dog soup restaurant, but I had no idea what it was because I didn’t know the Korean. So yeah, you definitely could have passed them…I don’t think they typically advertise by showing cute puppies on the front of the restaurant :-P.

    Haha…yeah, I’m not sure if I could go through with it either. Hope you had a good trip to Korea!

  21. Interesting…
    Last year i was in China well in a more remote part in the Shenzen District and they have the dog racked up and ready for sales like how you would see lamb or beef in a butchery. You pick the protion of the dog you want they chop it up and you can take it and cook it or take it to the restaurant next door that will cook it for you. Oh by the way these were mobile butcheries…
    Now because we were in such a remote part where 1 in every 250 people actually speak English it was difficult to get some answers about the dog, but eventually found out that they harvest them like how we would harvest sheep and cows. Apparently it is regarded as a delicacy in some parts of China where only the rich only eat dog.
    Now the question if i actually tasted is is yet to be determined because i ordered off the menu based on what the food looked like. You ask what type of meat is it and they say and they say yes meat or beef, but once you taste it…. you know that ain’t no beef you tasted before…
    I honestly ate a lot of stuff that i did not know what i was eating but hey we live once right…
    Korea, brace yourself, I will be there before the new year … ;)

  22. Wow, that’s pretty crazy. When we were in China, we also a dog market. It was a pretty traumatic experience. Thankfully I didn’t see them chopping up the dog. And I think we were in the same boat as you and often weren’t positive what we were eating as well. We’ve had a much easier time in Korea!

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