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Dutch skater sparks dog meat controversy at PyeongChang

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Patrick Roest, Jan Blokhuijsen and Sven Kramer of the Netherlands / Reuters
Patrick Roest, Jan Blokhuijsen and Sven Kramer of the Netherlands / Reuters

By Jung Min-ho

Dutch skater Jan Blokhuijsen has sparked a dog meat controversy at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.


At Wednesday's press conference for the men's team pursuit speed skating event, in which his team won a bronze medal, Blokhuijsen said, "Please treat dogs better in this country."

The comment came out of nowhere. When reporters did not have questions, his teammate Sven Kramer asked, "All Japanese (reporters)?" And then Blokhuijsen made the remark before they left the conference.

After the news went viral, many Koreans expressed fury, claiming that it was racist and ignorant of a different culture. Some claimed the case should officially be reported to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"The IOC should punish him for making that racist statement," a netizen said.

Another said, "The Korean government should file an official complaint. I think most young people do not eat dog meat anyway. But some still do, because that's what we used to eat when we were poor and it became a custom."

The country's dog-eating culture today is not what it used to be. Many Koreans, especially young people, do not enjoy it. But some still consider it a delicacy.

After the issue came to the fore, Blokhuijsen apologized on Twitter.

"I want to apologize to the Korean people," he wrote. "It was not my intention to insult you and your country. I care about the welfare of animals in general and I hope we can make this a better place for both of us. I (am) enjoy(ing) this Olympic Games and would like to thank you for your hospitality."

Speaking to reporters, Jeroen Bijl, head of the Netherlands' team at the Games, also apologized for the comment, saying he and his athletes respect Korea's culture.


Meanwhile, the debate over eating dog meat is ongoing in Korea, with animal rights groups condemning the brutality of eating dogs, while others claim the tradition does not deserve any more criticism than eating beef or pork.

Jung Min-ho mj6c2@koreatimes.co.kr


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