Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Korean bullfighting just as cruel as others

Today’s New York Times featured an article by Choe Sang-Hun about the rising popularity of bullfighting in South Korea. The South Korean government plans to legalize ringside gambling, a move that is expected to increase spectatorship and interest in the sport.

Sang-Hun outlines the differences between Korean and Spanish bullfighting, attempting to show that Korean bullfighting is more humane since there is no matador and the bulls rarely die in the ring.

Sang-Hun gives a dismissive nod to the issue of animal rights in the last two paragraphs. When asked if he was concerned about animal abuse charges, rancher-trainer Kang Myoung-chul is quoted saying “[A]ll male herd animals fight each other for reproduction. This is not about man conquering nature, as in Spanish bullfighting. We are simply observing nature in action.”

Sang-Hun does, however, explain that the owners “bind the young bull’s horns with wires to shape them into weapons” and that the bulls are often given copious amounts of alcohol before a match, a tactic used in Spanish bullfighting to disorient and frustrate the bull. Somehow these practices do not fall into Sang-Hun or Kang’s definition of animal cruelty. I’d like to see these bulls in nature who acquire and consume alcohol before they fight—with crippled horns—for an invisible mate.

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