A Dutch speed skater was forced to apologize to the South Korean people for saying that Koreans need to treat their canines better, reports say.
“Please treat dogs better in this country,” Dutch athlete Jan Blokhuijsen said about the country hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics as he left a press conference about the bronze medal he won as part of the Netherlands team pursuit squad on Wednesday night, USA Today reported.
The South Korean news media quickly attacked the Dutchman for his comments. Korea Times writer Kang Hyun-Kyung, for instance, said, “If he tried to voice concern about animal rights in Korea, he’s off track because dog meat culture is disappearing rapidly.”
By Thursday, the skater tweeted out an apology saying, “I want to apologize to the Korean people. It was not my intention to insult you and your country. I care about the welfare of animals. In general and hope we can make this a better place for both of us I enjoy this Olympic Games and like to thank you for your hospitality.”
However, for reasons unknown, Blokhuijsen later deleted the tweets.
Blokhuijsen isn’t the first Olympian to criticize South Korea for its traditional dog meat industry. Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel is known as an activist against the Korean penchant to eat dog meat and has participated in campaigns to drive the tradition out of fashion.
The South Korean government itself also tried to dissuade local restaurants in PyeongChang to take dog meat off their menus. Just ahead of the Olympics the government offered restaurants cash bonuses to take dog soup and other dog meat dishes off menus.
The campaign realized mixed results as some restaurateurs complained that the government was trying to interfere in their business and “threaten their livelihoods.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.