(ATTN: ADDS apology from Blokhuijsen in last 2 paras)
By Kang Yoon-seung
GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- Dutch speed skater Jan Blokhuijsen has made a controversial remark during a press conference after the Netherlands captured bronze in the men's team pursuit, which apparently targeted South Korea's culture of consuming dog meat.
"Please treat dogs better in this country," Blokhuijsen said Wednesday as he left the press conference room at the Gangneung Oval, located in Gangneung, the sub-host city of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
After the news went viral online, the South Korean public expressed fury over the statement, claiming that it was racist and ignorant of a different culture. Some claimed that the case should officially be reported to the International Olympic Committee.
The Dutch team remained only briefly at the conference room as journalists did not have questions for the team. Blokhuijsen made the remark as he stood up from his seat. The Netherlands failed to defend the team pursuit title from Sochi 2014.
Although dog meat is no longer popular among younger generations, some South Koreans still consider the dish a delicacy.
The debate over consuming dog meat is also ongoing in South Korea, with animal advocates condemning the brutality of consuming the animal, while others claim the tradition is no different from eating beef or pork.
Meanwhile, as the remark continued to spark controversies, Blokhuijsen delivered an apology through his Twitter on Thursday.
"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," Blokhuijsen wrote. "And (I) 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."