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South Korea Bans Centuries-Old Dog Meat Industry

Dogs in cage - Moran Market, Seongnam, South Korea
Dogs in a cage at Moran Market, Seongnam, South Korea. South Korea has banned the centuries-old dog meat industry. Credit: Kim Bartlett – Animal People, Inc / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

South Korea has recently approved a law aiming to put an end to the dog meat industry by the year 2027.

This new law will make it illegal to engage in the business of raising or slaughtering dogs for food, as well as the distribution and sale of dog meat.

Violating this law could lead to imprisonment for offenders. If  found guilty of slaughtering dogs, it could lead to up to three years of jail time. Those involved in raising dogs for meat or selling dog meat could be sentenced to a maximum of two years behind bars.

It’s important to note that while the law prohibits the business aspects of the dog meat industry, the consumption of dog meat itself will remain legal, as reported by LBC News.

Dog meat consumption is a centuries-old practice

In South Korea, the tradition of consuming dog meat, which has been around for centuries on the Korean Peninsula, exists in a kind of legal gray area. It’s neither explicitly prohibited nor officially sanctioned.

Despite the absence of official figures detailing the industry’s scale, activists and farmers estimate that hundreds of thousands of dogs are slaughtered for meat annually in South Korea.

Nevertheless, the popularity of this practice has declined in recent times, with a notable shift in sentiment, especially among the younger generation, according to LBC News.

The new law, set to come into effect in 2027, provides for a transition period for farmers and restaurant owners to explore alternative ways of making a living. Based on government data from 2023, South Korea had approximately 1,600 dog meat restaurants and 1,150 dog farms.

This Tuesday, the National Assembly unanimously passed the bill with a vote of 208 to 0. President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government is in favor of the ban, making the subsequent procedural steps to enact it a mere formality.

South Korean President and First Lady are known animal lovers

President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee are known for their love of animals, caring for six dogs of their own.

“This law is aimed at…realizing the values of animal rights, which pursue respect for life and a harmonious co-existence between humans and animals,” the legislation reads.

The bill aims to provide support to farmers and industry members for either closing down their businesses or transitioning to alternative ventures. The specifics of dismantling the industry will be determined through collaboration between government officials, farmers, experts, and animal rights activists, as outlined in the bill.

JungAh Chae, executive director of HSI’s Korea office, said, “I never thought I would see in my lifetime a ban on the cruel dog meat industry in South Korea, but this historic win for animals is testament to the passion and determination of our animal protection movement.”

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