International News

South Korea Passes Law Banning The Production And Sale Of Dog Meat

Blessing Nkama

South Korea’s National Assembly recently voted in favour of banning the slaughter and sale of dogs. It was a unanimous vote of 208-0 with the approval of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government.

The legislation is set to come into force by 2027 as part of the country’s aim to end the tradition of consuming dog meat. The Conversation reports that dog meat is the fourth most consumed meat in South Korea after pork, beef and chicken.

Over 6 million dogs are kept as pets in South Korea

Statistics have shown a decrease in consumption of dog meat, especially among the younger population who view dogs as beloved pets and family members. It is estimated that over 6 million dogs are kept as pets in South Korea and only 8% of people said they had tried dog in the last 12 months compared to 27% in 2015.

The tradition of consuming dog meat originated centuries ago due to the limited sources of meat such as beef. This tradition has continued among the elderly population who believe it has health benefits, especially during the hot summers to fight fatigue.

1,600 dog meat restaurants and 1,150 dog farms […] will soon have to phase out their businesses to comply with the new law

Dr Ahn Yong Geun, a former food engineering professor at Chungnam National University who is often referred to as “Dr Dog Meat”, argues it is a healthy substitute for other meats such as pork because of its low unsaturated fat content.

There are currently 1,600 dog meat restaurants and 1,150 dog farms according to government statistics, all of which will soon have to phase out their businesses to comply with the new law.

Jeung Seung-Yong, President of South Korean animal welfare group Catch Dog, praised the historic move after decades of campaigning to achieve the ban.

“Until now, about 100 small and large South Korean advocate groups worked together to increase awareness about the utterly cruel ways dogs, including stolen ones, were killed for eating,” said Jeung, whose group has shut down about 250 dog farms and rescued about 5,000 dogs since it was founded in 2019.

The new legislation requires owners to close their businesses during the 3-year grace period. After this period, anyone caught slaughtering dogs faces up to three years in prison, while people caught selling or raising dog meat face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 30 million won (about £18,000).

The Korean Dog Meat Association has argued that the bill infringes on the right to choose what one eats and overlooks those who rely on the trade as their main source of income.

South Korea joins other Asian countries and territories that have banned the dog meat trade, including India, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Blessing Nkama

Featured image courtesy of Sasha Sachina via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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