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Boshintang (보신탕; 補身湯), or Gaejangguk (개장국, -醬-) is a Korean soup that includes dog meat as its primary ingredient.[1] The soup has been claimed to provide increased virility.[2] The meat is boiled with vegetables such as green onions, perilla leaves, and dandelions, and spices such as Doenjang (된장), Gochujang (고추장), and perilla seed powder.[3] It is seasoned with Agastache rugosa before eating. The dish, one of the most common Korean foods made from dog meat, has a long history in Korean culture, but has in recent years been criticized both inside and outside Korea due to concerns about animal rights and sanitation.


The consumption of dog meat can be traced back to antiquity. Dog bones were excavated in a neolithic settlement in Changnyeong (창녕), South Gyeongsang Province. A wall painting in the Goguryeo tombs complex (고구려 고분군; 高句麗 古墳群) in South Hwangghae Province, a UNESCO World Heritage site which dates from 4th century AD, depicts a slaughtered dog in a storehouse (Ahn, 2000).[4]

Approximately in 1816, Jeong Hak Yu (정학유; 丁學遊), the second son of Jeong Yak-yong (정약용; 丁若鏞), a prominent politician and scholar of Choseon dynasty at the time, wrote a poem called Nongawollyeonga (농가월령가; 農家月令歌). This poem, an important source of Korean folk history, describes what ordinary Korean farmer families did in each month of a year. In the description of August, the poem tells of a married woman visiting her birth parents with boiled dog meat, rice cake, and rice wine, thus showing the popularity of dog meat at the time (Ahn, 2000; Seo, 2002).

In Dongguk Seshigi (동국세시기; 東國歲時記), a book written by a Korean scholar Hong Suk Mo (홍석모; 洪錫謨) in 1849, contains a recipe of Boshintang including a boiled dog and green onion.[4]

A common misconception is that Boshintang (and dog meat in general) is outright illegal in South Korea, this is not quite true. It is not classified as a livestock (under the Livestock Sanitation Management Act[5] - livestock covered are cattle, horse, donkey, sheep, goat, pig, chicken, duck, geese, turkey, quail, pheasant, rabbit and deer[6]), which some have taken to indicate its illegality, but it simply means it is unregulated except by the more general Food Sanitation Law. As such, restaurants serving Boshintang are subject to regular inspection by city food hygiene inspections (including testing of the dog meat for contaminants), as are all other restaurants. The conditions of the raising and of the slaughtering of the animals are not subject to inspection, unlike the above regulated livestock. Dog meat (of which Boshintang is one of the most commonly served dishes) is still regularly consumed and can be found easily at many restaurants across South Korea. In 2006 it was, in fact, the 4th most commonly consumed meat in South Korea, after beef, chicken and pork (an industry value of 1.4 trillion won).[7][8][9]


There are many different names for this dish in the Korean language, some of which may be considered euphemisms.

Hangul Hanja
or mixed script
boshintang 보신탕 補身湯 "invigorating soup"
yeongyangtang 영양탕 營養湯 "nutritious soup"
boyangtang 보양탕 補養湯 "invigorating soup"
gaejang(guk)a 개장(국) 개醬(국) "dog soy bean paste soup"
sacheoltang 사철탕 四철湯 "soup for all seasons"
dangogitang 단고기탕 단고기湯 "sweet meat soup(traditional recipe of the North Korea)"
gutang 구탕 狗湯 "dog soup"
gujang 구장 狗醬 "dog soy bean paste soup"
jiyangtang 지양탕 地羊湯 "land sheep soup"
meongmeongtang 멍멍탕 멍멍湯 "woof woof soup"


See also[edit]


^a Not to be confused with the homophone "게장" (gejang; marinated crabs) or "육개장" (Yukgaejang; beef soup).


  1. ^ [1] The Seoul Times 'Dog Meat Restaurants Crowded With Diners'
  2. ^ "S Korea dog meat row deepens". BBC News. November 12, 2001. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  3. ^ 2004 Seoul Shinmoon article
  4. ^ a b [2] 2008 Seoul Shinmoon article
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Bob M. "A Thoughtful Blog on Nutrition, A Squeamish Proposition for Most. Bosintang",, October 17, 2010, accessed January 17, 2011.
  9. ^