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Ethnographic surveys of South Korean markets

AUTHORS / RESEARCHERS: MIWON SEO

The mixed presence of live and dead animals is becoming increasingly rare in markets in South Korea. The investigation focused on three markets around Seoul that have experienced since 2010 either a complete closure of their activity (slaughter and sale of meat) or a ban on slaughter in the market. The results of our ethnographic survey in these markets show that the dog meat trade resists biosecurity measures because of its traditional valorization. These measures are imposed by regulatory authorities for reasons of food hygiene criteria, but also cleanliness of the urban space and acceptability of the killing of animals. Invisible slaughter in the city has caused some traders to feel a sense of persecution reinforced by the Covid-19 pandemic, as the government deploys strategies to reduce the number of positive cases both for its national legitimacy and for the model which it claims to defend internationally. Citizen engagement in regulating animal markets then extends their accountability through health measures. Miwon Seo has led this investigation in November-December 2020.


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