The first thing every one of us did before moving to Korea, was pack all our loved traditional foods, like spices. However, it is very hard to get meat on a long flight. Muslim immigrants around the world and especially in Korea find it pretty hard to get Halal meat and/or food. With a very traditional culture like that in Korea, Muslims find it difficult to explain what Halal meat is to the locals. So what is Halal food? How can you get it in Korea and Jeonju? These questions and more will be answered in this article.
First of all, let us define Halal meat. According to the Quran, Halal meat is any type of meat, excluding pork, sacrificed for the sake of god, indicating that you are grateful for God’s blessings. In addition, the animal should be healthy, fed a natural diet that does not contain any animal by-products and slaughtered by a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe. After that, the creature’s blood should be drained from the carcass. The butcher should also be Muslim or a believer.
People usually eat beef, lamb, and chicken, however, you can also eat camels, deer, ducks and even horses, depending on personal preferences and the availability of the animal. For instance, people in the Arabian Gulf region eat camel meat very frequently, however, people from northern Asia eat lamb and goat meat as they do not have many camels.
Are there other things to be considered before slaughtering an animal? Yes, Islam has put many rules to protect animals from being tortured or hunted to extinction. An animal should only be slaughtered by a well-trained butcher with a sharp knife. A man should not feel scared, worried or bad as he cuts the main vain, otherwise, the animal will suffer more. Besides, an animal should not be slaughtered in the presence of another as a sign of respect for its feelings. In addition, an animal should not be considered as a source of meat if it is in danger of extinction. Furthermore, the cattle should be treated well, be grass-fed, if applicable, given no antibiotics and not too young. “It behoves you to treat the animals gently”, the prophet Mohammed says on Muslim Vol. 4 Hadith 2593.
So how Halal meat is different from Kosher? Kosher is a meat that adheres to Jewish laws. There is basically no difference between these two types of meats. Muslims and Jews share the same beliefs when it comes to food, especially that they don’t eat pork either. However, Kosher does not permit the consumption of certain parts of the animal, such as fats for instance. Sometimes, animals get turned upside-down in according to kosher laws, but not in Halal. Kosher practices also require the blade to be twice the size of the animal’s neck.
In Korea, Muslims buy Halal meat from mosques, the Muslims place of worship. However, for the past few years, people started getting access to Halal meat through foreign marts. These marts were limited to Itaewon, but as the number of foreigners increased in cities other than Seoul, new marts have opened up to meet foreigners’ needs. The price of Halal meat can vary from 10,000~30,000 KRW per kilogram for lamb and beef, 5,000~7,500 KRW per kilogram for chicken products. They are generally cheaper than most types of meats in Korea, however, Halal meat isn’t available fresh, you can only buy it frozen.
Ehaan’s Multinational Trading (EMT) is a great example of a local mart within Jeonju. It is located a few hundred meters opposite to the main gate of Chonbuk National University. It is open every day from 4-10 pm. Personally, I do all my Halal grocery shopping there. In addition, the shop provides you with a variety of oriental, Indian and other spices and cooking ingredients.
Abu Baker Siddique mosque in Jeonju is another place where you can get your Halal food, meats, spices and other ingredients. It is worth to know that many non-Muslim shops sell Halal meat as well, like Ourshop India Grocery, you may find some Halal food sometimes in bigger retail shops like homeplus, emart, Lotte Mart and even Gmarket.
In conclusion, Halal meat law was set by God to protect animal rights as well as the human’s health. Jews and Muslims share almost the same slaughtering laws. Other slaughtering methods may seem better, merciful or gentle, but the fact is just the very opposite. You can also always get access to Halal food by visiting a mosque, a foreign store or find an online store to deliver it to your doorstep.
Yara Abu Dakka