Jung Myoung-Sook may not be rich, but she what she lacks in money she makes up for with heart.
In a country that still considers dog meat to be a delicacy, the 61-year-old woman makes it her mission to rescue as many dogs as she can in her small shelter in the city of Asan, South Korea. The dogs, which would otherwise be euthanized or sold for meat, are instead rescued to live in Jung’s shelter.
Jung has been rescuing and caring for dogs for 26 years. Her hillside compound, which she opened in 2014, houses more than 200 canines. Jung’s altruism is even more remarkable considering her humble income. She scratches out a meager living cleaning a store and collecting recyclable boxes. She spends about $1,600 USD per month on food and medicine for the dogs and receives some donations of food and money to offset costs. While some dogs are adopted out, most of them live with her for good.
Consumption of dog meat can be traced back to antiquity in Korea, and it is estimated that somewhere between 5 and 30% of South Koreans have eaten dog meat at least once in their lifetime. Fortunately, it is not common practice to eat it regularly.
Dog meat consumption also still occurs in places like China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Taiwan and the Philippines have outlawed trade in dog meat, so the practice has gone largely underground.
Dogs who are sold for meat face a particularly gruesome fate, some being beaten, burned or boiled alive in the belief that the suffering of the animals will enhance the flavor of the meat.
Though dogs have only recently gained popularity as pets in South Korea, there is a growing movement to stop the trade and consumption of dog meat. Groups like Koreandogs.org are working to end the cruel practice. While Jung claims no affiliation to such groups, she is a trailblazer in the movement.