I was walking along minding my own business in the Sajik area of Pusan near the baseball stadium. I came around a corner and there was a huge, colorful, painted advertisement. The graphic picture told what was going on behind the gates, even though I did not know the Korean words on the sign (투견대회).
Like a geeker at a car accident, I stepped through the gate into an open space between other buildings. It was like a 3-story office building had been razed to create the perfect, semi-secluded venue for the day's entertainment. The fights were already in progress and the mostly male onlookers were rapt. I approached the cage with my camera at the ready, but a Korean gentleman in a blue suit came up, gently took me by the arm and escorted me up onto the stage where the other apparent VIPs were seated. The rest of the fans (the common folk?) were gathered below.
A young lady timidly walked over and, using both hands, handed me a cold Bacchus D. (My first intro to "Energy Drinks", I am pretty sure it has nicotine in it along with a host of other stimulants. Since then I believe Dong-A Chemicals has graduated to Bacchus F--not sure what happened to Bacchus E. Probably no point in questioning their claim it is one of the first energy drinks ever created...)
If the fighting didn't get your blood going, this drink sure would do the trick.
From my VIP seat I watched and snapped off a few slides. A huge dog and a trainer would enter from each side of the cage. The dogs were frothing and chomping to attack. An offical blew his whistle, the trainers released the dogs, and the dogs flew through the air at each other in full attack mode:
They snarled and tried to lock their jaws on the other's neck until one turned tail and ran. An official or trainer would step in and end the bout.
After watching a few rounds, I went down ringside and got a close-up of the action. These dogs don't like each other. It's difficult to tell from this snap, but much of the dark stains on the white bars is dog blood.
I gave a courtesy bow to my host and strolled out of the gate into the bright sun. I had never seen anything like it before (nor ever again since). Over the years I have had many a Korean deny the existence of such brutality.
Nevertheless, I was there, and I did see it. And I was not expecting that.