For Dogs in South Korea, 'History in the Making'

Production, sales of dog meat banned as of 2027, enraging dog farmers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 9, 2024 9:19 AM CST
South Korea Passes Unanimous Ban on Dog Meat Sales
Animal rights activists attend a protest rally supporting the government-led dog meat banning bill at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's Parliament on Tuesday passed a landmark ban on production and sales of dog meat, as public calls for a prohibition have grown sharply over concerns about animal rights and the country's international image. Some angry dog farmers said they plan to challenge the bill's constitutionality and hold protest rallies, a sign of continued heated debate over the ban, per the AP. After a three-year grace period, the bill would make slaughtering, breeding, and sales of dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027 and punishable by two to three years in prison or a fine of about $23,000, reports the New York Times. It doesn't provide any penalties for eating dog meat.

Dog meat consumption, a centuries-old practice on the Korean Peninsula, isn't explicitly banned or legalized in South Korea. It has long been viewed as a source of stamina on hot summer days. Recent surveys show more than half of South Koreans want dog meat banned, and a majority no longer eat it. But one in every three South Koreans still opposes a ban, even though they don't consume it. The National Assembly passed the bill by a 208-0 vote. It will become law after being endorsed by the Cabinet Council and signed by President Yoon Suk Yeol, considered formalities as his government supports the ban. "This law is aimed at contributing to realizing the values of animal rights, which pursue respect for life and a harmonious coexistence between humans and animals," the legislation says.

The bill offers assistance to dog farmers and others in the industry in shutting down their businesses and shifting to alternatives. Details are to be worked out among government officials, farmers, experts, and animal rights activists. Dogs are also eaten in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, North Korea, and in some African countries. But South Korea's dog meat industry has drawn more attention because of the country's reputation as a cultural and economic powerhouse. It's also the only nation with industrial-scale dog farms. Most farms in South Korea raise about 500 dogs, but one visited by the AP in July had about 7,000. Dozens of animal rights activists gathered at the National Assembly to celebrate the bill's passage, carrying large photos of dogs, chanting slogans, and holding placards reading "Dog meat-free Korea is coming."

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Humane Society International called the legislation's passage "history in the making." Farmers, however, were extremely upset by the bill's passage. "This is a clear case of state violence, as they are infringing on our freedom to choose our occupation," said Son Won Hak, a farmer and former leader of a farmers association. Ordinary citizens were split over the ban. "Dogs are different from cows, chickens, and pigs," says a 58-year-old Seoul resident. "Why would you still eat dogs when they are now seen more as family-like pets than food?" Another Seoul resident disagreed, saying whether to eat dog meat is a matter of a personal choice and dietary culture. "Dogs are dogs, not humans," that local said. More here.

(More South Korea stories.)

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