A person I called up this afternoon asked if I had eaten dog stew today. Of course I haven’t and never will. He said that it is “dog-eating day”. It turned out that today, July 15, the eighth day of the sixth lunar month is what the Koreans call “Chobok”. It is the first of the three hottest days of summer. The other days are called “Chungbok” and “Malbok.” “Cho” means first, “chung” means the middle and “mal” means last. During this days, it is tradition to eat “boshintang” or “dog stew”. Other people call it “mongmongtang” based on the sound that dogs make (mong-mong in Korean and aw-aw in Tagalog :D). As an alternative, people who don’t eat dog meat can have “samgyetang” or “chicken and ginseng stew.”
Why do Koreans eat “boshintang” and “samgyetang” on these days? It is believed that they can increase one’s energy during the hottest days of summer. I am not familiar with “boshintang” since I haven’t tried it but “samgyetang” is made up of a spring chicken soup filled with glutinous rice, dates, chestnuts, garlic and ginseng roots. It is quite easy to cook and very refreshing.
Korea has been under a lot of criticisms because of this tradition. Though they are not the only country that eats dogs. In the Philippines, dogs are eaten too in some of the northern towns. It is illegal under the Philippine law to kill and serve dogs as food. While it’s not uncommon to see restaurants in Korea specializing in this delicacy, the restaurants in the Philippines operate clandestinely. According to a BBC report, it is also illegal to serve dog meat in Korea.
It is kinda unfair to say that Koreans are dog eaters. Many I know don’t care about dog-eating. I don’t eat dog meat and neither does my husband and his family. My “chageun abujonim” (second brother-in-law) works for a pet organization in Korea and he strongly advocates against dog-eating.
Hmm… shall we have “samgyetang” tonight for dinner?