South Korea votes to ban dog meat

(Seoul) The South Korean parliament passed a law on Tuesday banning the trade in dog meat within three years, a historic shift in this country which still has many farms fought by animal rights activists.

The South Korean National Assembly adopted the text without any opposition (208 votes for, 2 abstentions, 0 against). It will come into effect within three years, after it is signed into law by President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Breeding, selling and slaughtering dogs for consumption will be punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of 30 million won (C$30,400).

Dog meat has long been a part of South Korean cuisine, but its consumption has declined sharply in recent years as more South Koreans adopt pets.

In a survey released Monday by the Seoul-based think tank Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education, nine out of 10 people in South Korea said they did not think they would eat dog meat in the future.

Activists hailed a historic turning point, like JungAh Chae, executive director of the Humane Society International/Korea organization.

“We have reached a tipping point where most South Koreans reject the consumption of dog meat and want this suffering to be relegated to the history books,” she said, welcoming the vote. decisive” of the deputies.

“I am heartbroken to think of the millions of dogs for whom change comes too late, but I am delighted that South Korea can close this miserable chapter in our history and look forward to a dog-friendly future,” she added.

“There will no longer be any reason to treat us as a dog-eating country,” said Thae Yong-ho, MP of the majority party, at the origin of the text, in a press release.

The slaughter of dogs for food could reach up to a million specimens per year in South Korea, according to estimates put forward by animal rights activists.


Among young urbanites, however, eating dog meat has become taboo, and pressure on the government to legislate on the matter has increased.

Support for a ban has grown with the 2022 election of President Yoon. An avowed animal lover, he adopted several stray dogs and cats with first lady Kim Keon Hee, herself a vocal critic of dog meat consumption.

His predecessor Moon Jae-in, also known for his affection for dogs, had already cautiously suggested in 2021 to ban their consumption.

He owned several including Tory, who became the first dog rescued from a food destiny to enter the Blue House, the presidential palace.

Previous attempts at a ban, however, have long encountered fierce opposition from breeders.

The bill voted on Tuesday also provides for compensation so that companies can withdraw from this trade.

According to official figures, around 1,100 dog farms breed hundreds of thousands of dogs each year which are served in restaurants across the country.

Dog meat, red and fatty, systematically boiled to make it more tender. It is generally eaten as a summer delicacy, believed to help cope with the heat.

South Korea has an animal protection law. But this mainly limits itself to prohibiting the cruel slaughter of dogs and cats without prohibiting their consumption.

Authorities have repeatedly invoked this law and other hygiene regulations to crack down on dog farms and restaurants in the run-up to international events such as the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

For the Animal Liberation Wave association, Tuesday’s vote is “a starting point for the liberation of dogs, but also for considering other standards and a future for other animal species subject to industrial exploitation, such as cows, pigs, chickens.


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