Cat lovers may want to sit down for this.
South Korean police arrested a 54-year-old man on suspicion of catching up to 600 stray cats around his neighborhood, boiling them alive, skinning and gutting the carcasses and then selling the meat to locals for use in a special medicinal soup.
The Korea JoongAng Daily reported on the incident on May 21, writing that the Pusan Police Department arrested the man on May 21 on charges of violating Korea’s animal protection laws, although the case appears to still be under investigation.
The man is accused of luring neighborhood stray cats with food, then capturing them and throwing them – alive – into a vat of boiling water in his home. He would then, police allege, skin and butcher the cats and store the meat in his freezer until buyers came around.
The accused apparently engaged in this activity for a period of a little over a year starting in February, 2014 – killing up to 600 felines in that time.
Police, the JoongAng Daily reports, were quoted as saying that a rumor has been doing the rounds in South Korea – presumably among the elderly community – which purports that cat meat, if boiled in a soup, helps to relieve arthritis. They advised Koreans to avoid illegally obtained cat meat, the JoongAng Daily notes, as it is unregulated in South Korea, unlike other more common meats such as beef and pork.
Now, since I can picture the comments section for this story quickly becoming a roiling cauldron of outrage, let’s note that, this individual’s heinous crimes aside, each country has its own cultural taboos when it comes to the consumption of certain animals and one country’s adorable pet may be another country’s delicious stew ingredient. Hell, I would gladly eat (frankly quite delicious) horse meat every single day if I could, but that’s illegal in some countries. The JoongAng itself also reported as early as 2010 that cats, which were apparently once shunned by the Korean public, are becoming increasingly popular pets in Korea, so these Eastern medicine beliefs about cat meat are sure to fall by the wayside sooner or later if they haven’t already.
That said, animal cruelty should never be condoned and we hope the 18 live cats – apparently destined for the pot – police found in the man’s dwelling find a good and caring home.