Lost in Translation: Dog Food

“They eat dog there!”

“They eat dog there don’t they?!?”

“You’re not going to eat dog, are you?”

“No one tell Aunt Shirl.”

These were the concerns that peppered the good-byes from friends and family as I packed up to move to Korea. Few worries over the fact that Korea is still at war or that their crazy-ass neighbors have nuclear weapons. Everyone was upset about the dogs.

It’s true. Some Koreans eat dogs. Some Koreans don’t eat dogs. I have yet to knowingly encounter a plate full of puppy, but I have also eaten a few pieces of meat that I couldn’t quite identify. Ignorance, thus far, has been bliss.

Fast-forward to this week. I was teaching 5th graders from a powerpoint my coteacher found online.  (It should be known that most powerpoints used to supplement our elementary school lessons involve silly pictures of just about everything. Soccer players getting kicked in the nuts. Children making ridiculous faces in response to eating a lemon.  At our teacher orientation, we were encouraged to use such pictures by googling “thing” + “funny”.  I am guessing that’s how this particular powerpoint developed.)

“Can you join us for lunch?”

“What are you having?”

“Hot dogs!”

Then this:


Get it? GET IT??

Some kids laughed. Some kids smirked. And I initially enjoyed the pun and the cute together, because of course hot dogs aren’t really dogs! That’s absurd! Har, har. It’s funny because we would never eat dog! Aw, dogs are cute!

But I’m American and naive, and was quickly reminded so when in second period half the boys in the class started shouting,

“Dog! Yum!”

“Dog is delicious. I love boshintang!”

I recoiled momentarily, as it had not occurred to me that this might be the response. But then I did what I’m often forced to do, take a step back and marvel at the magnitude of this culture gap I live in.

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