South Korea: I Was Inside Boknal

By Michele Brown | January 05, 2024

To my knowledge I am the only person who ever went inside the Moran Market killing rooms on the main level and inside the hidden killing rooms at the back, underneath the main level. To my knowledge I am the only person who ever attended the full day of the main Boknal dog eating festival at Moran Market.

Introduction To The Day

In 2016 I spent a horrifying full day inside the BokNal dog meat festival. I went on the main day of the three dog eating days, which are the hottest days of summer. Moran Market was notorious as the main slaughterhouses and killing rooms for dogs and cats. It was the main location for Korea’s annual BokNal festival. The woman in the photograph (above) is me, Michele.

The day was very busy with around a thousand people. Men especially gorged on plates of dog meat under huge marquee tents set up in the large car park. Hundreds of children were brought along too. It was a family day with a party atmosphere. The fun and laughter drowned out the screams of the dogs’ being slaughtered non-stop throughout the day, visible to all party goers.

Undercover Work

For days I had already been undercover at Moran Market, several hours a day. Foreigners were not allowed into Moran Market. I only got ‘inside the market’ because I acted like a dumb tourist who couldn’t understand what they were yelling at me on the fist day I went there. I shamelessly giggled my way into being allowed to stay. Over the days I’d managed to break the ice with several dog butchers; who no longer saw me as a threat. I spent a full week inside the market and ended up being invited into the actual dog killing rooms (which I will write more on at another time.)

Boknal Horror

I was standing in the doorway of a killing room, talking to a dog butcher. A sweaty man walked up and abruptly emptied a loaded wheelbarrow with four large heavy sealed black plastic bags. As the wheelbarrow contents tipped out, one bag hit my leg and landed on my feet. I stood in horror as the contents of the bag was thrashed violently against my leg and on my feet.

Each bag contained a live dog which was asphyxiating in front of me – on my feet! I had to fight not to vomit on the spot. Remember: I was standing inside a dog killing room with a dog butcher, and it was imperative I keep my cover, or I would suffer violence against me. The dog butcher pushed me to get my legs out from under the weight of the thrashing dogs. I felt my own oxygen evaporating as I watched helplessly.

The owner of the dogs was a local restaurant owner who needed these four dogs butchered on the spot. He had driven through Seoul with the live dogs in the trunk of his car, sealed in heavy plastic bags. I cannot put into words the rage which swept over me as I stood opposite this revolting human being. But to those around me, I smiled and nodded my head and kept my cover. The dog butcher swung into action, shouting, and workers appeared and threw the bags of dogs into another wheelbarrow and they were wheeled away to be slaughtered, meters from where I was standing.

Pet Day At Boknal

It was gut-wrenching to find out the Boknal day was also “pet day. Hundreds of pet dogs and cats were for sale as meat for immediate slaughter. They were clearly once-loved pets. Most were pure-bred breeds and were now starving and traumatized. It was horrifying!

The “pets” were displayed in the blazing full sun all day. They had no shelter, water or food. Thousands of people filed past, laughing and jeering at them. The hopelessness in the eyes of these animals will stay with me forever.

boknal

 

I watched this puppy be flipped over and examined by a man with a young child, looking to buy a dog meat to raise and slaughter at home.

I watched countless parents with children picking up puppies and examining them as you would examine an orange at a fruit stall. They were shopping for dog meat puppies, to raise and slaughter at home.

Live Puppies and Kittens Thrown Into Trash Bin

I watched in horror as a female cat vendor picked up two live kittens and literally threw them into a large trash bin, being guarded by a security man. When I deliberately tossed a small piece of paper into the same bin to look inside it, I saw other live puppies and kittens who had already been thrown in to bake in the sun and die. Their little legs still moving and wriggling. All of them would die a horrible death, baking in the sun.

The security guard yelled at me to get back and go away. 15 mins later I made another excuse to have to go to the same trash bin to look again, but this time the guard angrily shouted at me. These animals had been thrown away because they had lost their perkiness, from baking in direct sunlight for several hours.

Distraught

In all of my time working undercover in dog and cat slaughterhouses and killing rooms in different countries, this was the only time I had to walk away and pretend I had something in my eye. I fought not to fall on the ground and howl. I pretended to have something in my eye to wipe away the tears which uncontrollably fell from my eyes.

Cats At Boknal

Cats are the forgotten victims of the dog meat trade. South Korea has blistering heat in summer and sub-zero temperatures and deep snow in winter. Cats are often hated, seen as evil and suffer horribly in South Korea. At Moran Market cats are boiled alive in large vats and made into (false) health food tonic drinks. Puppies which do not sell quickly are also boiled and made into elixir drinks, which are falsely marketed to boost a man’s libido. I witnessed these things happening.

boknal

 

In South Kora and everywhere else, cats are the forgotten victims of the dog meat trade.

The date BokNal was supposed to take place, according to FaceBook posts, was incorrect. The actual BokNal festival was a day earlier than expected. Because I was going to Moran Market everyday it was by accident that I found the main dog eating festival day was a day early. Anyone who went to Moran Market on the day of the FaceBook date would have found it to be empty.

Family Pets For Dog Meat

Prior to the BokNal festival day which I attended, I personally watched pet owners arrive at Moran Market and sell their own pet dogs to the butchers. I watched the exchange of cash and watched pet owners place their own pets inside the death cages for slaughter. Horrifying.

I personally know of a number of instances where South Korean families have eaten their own ‘once-loved’ family pet. On one occasion the dog had been the family pet, living inside the house for six years. The family went on a picnic barbecue, the same as many people would take their pets to for a fun day out. As people milled around and enjoyed each others company, this particular family strung up and hung their own pet dog from a tree, then barbecued it and ate it. The family justified their actions by saying the dog was honored by being slaughtered in a beautiful setting.

I interviewed South Korean people who explained to me at their Christian church gathering they played music while slaughtering their pet dog, so it died in a very nice setting, which to them justified their actions.

I know many instances where children are given a puppy to play with for a few months, and one day the child comes home from school and is served that puppy for dinner, cooked as a stew for the family meal. This is not uncommon in South Korea.

Butchers Sell Toy Dogs For Kids To Hang

Because it was Boknal party day butchers joined in the fun. Outside one of the main slaughterhouses a vendor was selling toy dogs with a striking similarity to the South Korean “yellow dog” which is one of the main meat dogs bred on dog farms. Yellow dogs are a large docile dog with a sweet personality. The blue toy dogs (see pic below). were set up to show children they could hang a toy dog at home for fun, just like the real thing.

boknal

 

I bought this toy ‘hanging yellow dog’ outside a dog slaughterhouse at BokNal.

False Belief About Dog Meat

South Korean dog eaters believe dog meat “cools them down” in summer. Chinese people eat dog meat to “warm them up” during winter. The South Korean signature dish “Boshintang” soup. I have seen large cauldrons of it being cooked with dog heads and body parts swilling around in it. It is hideous to see a dog’s jaw bones pop up with the distinguishable rows of teeth still intact.

Boshtintang is a soup made with a lot of liquid. When a person consumes the soup they are ingesting large amounts of liquid, which hydrates them. This is no different than having a hot cup of tea on a hot day – the tea doesn’t cool you down, the hydration does! Dog soup simply hydrates people on a very hot day.

Final Thoughts

BokNal was traumatic and haunted me for many years. I will forever carry the ghosts of many of the dogs and cats from Moran Market.

Statements out of South Korea today say in 2027 they will outlaw dog meat restaurants. China did a similar move which turned out to be nothing. Vietnam spoke about similar things for Hanoi for 2021 but nothing happened.

South Korea is known for slaughtering dogs at christian church gatherings, family picnics, at home and so on. Its a superstitious belief that a family pet dog can become a devil around 8 years old. This is why many family pet dogs are slaughtered and eaten by the family at around six or seven years old. I don’t think Korea is ready to let all that go yet.

Read more: South Korea: Moran Market Butchers Caught

Thank you for reading,

Michele Brown
Founder,
Fight Dog Meat.

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Admin
Lan Nguyen
1 month ago

Great Content

Guest
Anh
1 month ago

Good Post

Guest
Kelly
1 month ago

I applaud you for doing what you did and witnessing what a lot of people don’t know. Myself, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without getting my hands on one of those demons slaughtering these animals. Here in America people usually laugh when they talk about the dog and cat eating countries and it angers me because they don’t know the truth. They don’t know the betrayal and torture these innocent animals go through. I quickly educate when I get a chance. I show them pictures and a video which I consider the worst I have seen. They seem to choke up after the video and turn quiet. I always ask them to imagine one of our pig, cattle or chicken trucks on the highway being replaced by a truck full of dogs and/or cats. I always send them to FDM or Soi, I always will. Thank you again for what you do and the volunteers!!!

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