Lee Tae Hyung had raised dogs for meat for more than two decades, but late last year he was looking for a way out.
Under criticism from his family for a business that shamed them, and facing complaints from neighbors about the noise and smell, he was ready to cut ties with the trade that had supplied half his income ever since he left the Daewoo motor company and moved to a small town east of Seoul to live with his parents.
So when Humane Society International offered him an opportunity to switch from raising dogs for meat to raising crops, Lee agreed. A grant helped him replace barns full of rusty cages with greenhouses, and Lee will now serve as a local spokesperson for an HSI program seeking to persuade other members of the Korean dog meat farmers association to convert their businesses. It’s a good time to leave the trade: Demand for dog eat—traditionally believed to possess medicinal properties—is more and more confined to South Korea’s older population.
“I think a lot of people want to get out of the dog meat trade,” Lee says. “Because people don’t like dog meat like in the past.”