Anti-dog meat campaigners have targeted Penrith’s relationship with its Korean sister city as a flag raising ceremony was held to mark Korean Foundation Day.
Penrith councillors have received numerous emails from Australia and overseas on the issue, and a change.org petition urging Mayor John Thain to oppose the dog meat trade in the South Korean city of Gangseo-gu had attracted more than 2,700 signatures when the flag raising was held outside Penrith civic centre on October 16.
“We feel certain that the city would have hesitated to form such a Sister City relationship had your city known about the aberrant and cruel practices routinely carried out in the dog and cat meat trades in Seoul Gangseo-gu and all over South Korea,” the petition stated.
“In Seoul Gangseo-gu there are countless dog farms, slaughterhouses, markets and restaurants where the dogs, who are tortured their entire lives, end up being slaughtered in the most inhumane ways, such as by electrocution, hanging or beating; and then thrown into boiling water – sometimes while they are still alive.
“We believe that there must surely be some social responsibility for the representatives of one city to take a stand against any wrongdoing being sanctioned or ignored by their Sister City.
“As such, we ask you to please urge Seoul Gangseo-gu Mayor Hyun-Song Noh to take action, and to state that Penrith and its citizens demand that Seoul Gangseo-gu issue an official document mandating that … existing Korean laws be enforced by its government officials, police and judges:”
A short statement by Penrith Council in response to the campaign said council would “inform the mayor of Gangseo-gu of the petition”.
Cr Thain was joined by representatives from the Korean Local Government Centre for Oceania at the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea for the flag raising, as well as well known local figures and school children.
Council signed a mutual cooperation agreement with Gangseo-gu 23 years ago, and Cr Thain acknowledged “council’s friendship” with the city.
“Council and Penrith community value its connection with Korea, and over the past two decades this important relationship has enriched both our cities and has provided many opportunities for the sharing of our cultures,” he told those gathered for the ceremony.
Students from Penrith Selective High School sang the national anthem as Cr Thain raised the Australian flag, and Ms Noh Kyoung Kim, chief of the Korean Local Government Centre for Oceania at the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, thanked council for its support before doing the honours to raise her own country’s flag.