Yeah, its been a learning experience for me. Some of it I'm not too surprised or unfamiliar with, being from the South in the USA. Dogs in the rural south are loved, but the "norm" of how to love them and the standards of care are often really low or very simplistic (if not outright ignorant)...
And the meat markets are buying pets and stuff now too and picking up strays... Owners that don't want to bother with shelters or or just don't want them or that get too big, sell them to the meat markets now. When the woman lost her dog, she went around EVERYWHERE with photos and flyers. The shops refused to let her post flyers and lots of people went around and tore them down (and left all the food flyers, sale ads and event ads up).When she and other people would show the picture of her dog, many people apparently reprimanded her and them for bothering to look for him since he was a mutt that was only good for meat and many directed her to the meat market. The meat sellers confirmed that they get dogs like him all the time and he was the kind they of dog they liked to buy.
Fortunately, a kind security guard noticed him and kept him fed and someone who'd heard about her search noticed him and contacted the people helping her search and she managed to get him back safely. But he was missing for about 2 weeks and people were very cruel to her while she was looking and the authorities actually found it all to be funny. SBS actually wanted to do a segment about her and her search for her dog. I wish they agreed to do the segment, if only to show an example of her dedication to her dog and the cruelty she was exposed to because of her loyalty.
I was really surprised to learn that Koreans considered Jindo "big" dogs, since they're mostly under 50 pounds. And the mixes are generally even smaller than that. But then I realized that, traditionally, they were one of the largest breeds native to Korea... Though I am seeing larger dogs show up in dramas and music videos more frequently now, particularly Great Pyrenees which I found really surprising given that that actually IS a large breed. Its also a bit alarming as the breed is easily obtainable here, I'm guessing due to trends and being seen in dramas, and like you said... Dogs are given up or put down here for the simplest things and size is a very common reason.
Realistically, I don't consider eating dog meat abusive, even though its something I could not bring myself to do, because I understand that culturally it has been a meat source (similar to how horse is eaten in parts of Europe and mexico... Which I also could not bring myself to eat) and how frog, alligator, raccoon and other animals that are commonly eaten where I'm from aren't eaten elsewhere. And not everyone that eats dog meat dislikes them... My Husband's grandmother does, but she loves animals and sees them as pets... But she seems to see meat dogs and pet dogs as being two separate things. Just like my landlady sees Korean cats & imported cats as being different. I do consider the popular method of slaughter to be abusive and inhumane though ( I had been told beating was outlawed, but it seems its still commonly practiced.) Its also interesting how dog meat is regarded though. I've met some young Koreans that get VERY defensive if its mentioned and deny it happens at all. I've met some that get upset about it and feel its outdated and embarrassing. And others that see it as a simple part of Korean life and culture with varying opinions on how it should be regulated. So as common as it is, it seems to be a somewhat controversial issue, especially with the younger generations. So over the next few decades I think there will probably be a lot of change regarding the dog meat market, at the very least regarding regulations.
Honestly, I'm not fond of cats either as a personal pet. Freya is more an exception to the rule. I've had her since she was two weeks old and she is more like a dog (a mean, bi-polar ankle biting dog, unfortunately) than a cat. XD I'm much more of a dog person.
I try to take everything in stride here and keep it as a learning experience on both ends and remember that there is an entirely different culture and history that has influenced how things are, and that my own culture is still developing in its treatment and regard for animals. And from what I've been told, what I'm seeing now are actually big steps in Korea's regard toward pets and animal welfare. There are rescue groups and welfare groups in Korea now and shelters that are trying to help with education. Some of the new trends help with educaton too, not always the most ideal delivery but its helping. And there are Korean celebrities advocating animal welfare too. Lee Hyori even does a lot of animal and social charity and advocacy from what I've read and heard.
And this past year the Korean Animal Welfare Association has been airing a very forward ad about abandoning pets being like abandoning family/children, you can view it here
Maybe there will be some Jindo shows while you're here.
I plan to attend as many as possible from here on out, not just to see Jindo but to learn more about the Korean show circuit in general.