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South Korea Takes Historic Step: Bans Dog Meat Production and Sales

January 9, 2024










In a historic move, South Korea’s parliament has passed a groundbreaking ban on the production and sales of dog meat, responding to mounting public calls for prohibition amid growing concerns about animal rights and the nation’s international reputation. The decision has sparked intense debate, with disgruntled dog farmers expressing their intention to challenge the bill’s constitutionality through protest rallies.

Scheduled to take effect after a three-year grace period, the legislation will make slaughtering, breeding, and sales of dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027, punishable by 2-3 years in prison. Notably, there are no penalties specified for consuming dog meat.

Dog meat consumption, deeply rooted in the Korean Peninsula’s history, has faced a significant shift in public opinion, with over half of South Koreans supporting a ban and a majority no longer participating in the practice. Despite this, one in every three South Koreans opposes the ban, even if they do not consume dog meat. The National Assembly overwhelmingly passed the bill by a 208-0 vote, awaiting formalities from the Cabinet Council and President Yoon Suk Yeol’s signature, given the government’s support for the ban.

The legislation emphasizes contributing to animal rights values and fostering a harmonious co-existence between humans and animals. It includes provisions for assisting dog farmers and industry members in transitioning away from their businesses, with details to be determined through collaboration among government officials, farmers, experts, and animal rights activists.

Animal rights activists celebrated the passage at the National Assembly, holding large photos of dogs, chanting slogans, and displaying placards proclaiming “Dog meat-free Korea is coming.” Humane Society International hailed the event as “history in the making,” acknowledging the relentless efforts of the animal protection movement.

While dog meat consumption is practiced in several countries, South Korea’s industrial-scale dog farms have drawn international attention, particularly due to the nation’s cultural and economic influence. Farmers, especially those with large-scale operations, expressed outrage at the bill’s passage, describing it as an infringement on their freedom to choose their occupation.

With no reliable official data on the exact size of South Korea’s dog meat industry, activists and farmers estimate that hundreds of thousands of dogs are slaughtered annually. The anti-dog meat campaign received a boost from South Korea’s first lady, Kim Keon Hee, who faced criticism during farmer demonstrations but remained a staunch supporter of the prohibition.

The legislation’s lack of clarity regarding support for dog farmers and industry members has raised concerns. Agriculture Minister Song Mi-ryung assured efforts to formulate reasonable assistance programs. However, critics argue that the elderly farmers, predominantly in their 60s to 80s, may face challenges in transitioning without adequate compensation.

Public opinions on the ban remain divided, reflecting a clash between evolving perceptions of dogs as family-like pets and the preservation of cultural dietary choices.



Credit: AP

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