South Korea has passed a bill to ban eating dog meat, ending the controversial practice as consumer habits change

Seoul, South Korea

South Korea's parliament on Tuesday passed a bill banning inbreeding and slaughter Dogs for consumptionIt ends the traditional and controversial practice of eating dog meat after years of nationwide debate.

The bill received rare bipartisan support in South Korea's divided political landscape, highlighting how dog-eat-dog attitudes have changed during the country's rapid industrialization over the past few decades.

According to the relevant committee of the National Assembly, the law will prohibit the distribution and sale of food products made or processed with dog products.

However, customers who consume dog meat or related products will not be penalized – meaning the law will mostly target people working in the industry, such as dog breeders or sellers.

According to the bill, anyone who kills a dog for food could face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million Korean won (about $23,000). Anyone who raises dogs for food, or who knowingly receives, transports, stores or sells food made from dogs, faces reduced fines and prison terms.

Farm owners, dog meat restaurants and other workers in the dog trade will be given three years to close or relocate their businesses, the group said. Local governments should support those business owners to “sustain” other businesses.

02:50 – Source: CNN

A CNN reporter explains the significance of South Korea's dog meat ban

The bill now goes to President Yoon Suk Yeol for final approval. It has been proposed by both Yun's ruling party and the main opposition party, and has received vocal support from First Lady Kim Kyon-hee, who owns several dogs and visited the animal protection organization during the president's state visit to the Netherlands in December.

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Like Vietnam and parts of southern China, South Korea has a history of consuming dog meat. It was traditionally seen in South Korea as a food to help beat the summer heat, and was also a cheap and readily available source of protein at a time when poverty rates were very high.

About 1,100 dog farms operate for food purposes in South Korea, and about half a million dogs are raised on these farms, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

But the practice has come under criticism in recent decades, with animal rights activists at the forefront; International rights groups such as the Humane Society International (HSI) rescued dogs from South Korean farms and relocated them overseas.

There are also a number of South Koreans who eat dog meat was dramatically rejected Pet ownership has become more common. Dog meat eaters are now becoming older, while younger, more urban South Koreans are moving away, mirroring similar trends in other parts of Asia.

By 2022 census Gallup Korea64% of respondents were against eating dog meat – a significant increase from a similar survey in 2015. The number of respondents who ate dog meat in the past year also dropped from 27% in 2015 to just 8% in 2022. .

Official statistics show that between 2005 and 2014, the number of restaurants serving dogs in the capital Seoul fell by 40% due to declining demand.

“Our opinion on dog meat Consumption and animals in general have been changing over the past decades,” said Lee Sang-kyung, campaign manager of the dog meat ban at HSI Korea.

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“It was popular at one time when our food resources were scarce during the Korean War, but as the economy grows and animals and our food consumption, food choices and things change, I think it's the right time. Move with the times.” should.”

He added that Monday's passage of the bill was due in part to the political will of the “first lady to grow passionately.”

Chung Chung-Joon/Getty Images

Dog farmers fight with police officers during a protest in Seoul, South Korea on November 30, 2023.

But the bill has met with fierce opposition from dog breeders and business owners, who say it will destroy their livelihoods and heritage.

In November, dozens of dog farmers and breeders gathered outside the presidential office in Seoul to protest the bill — many bringing their pet dogs in cages, which they intended to release on the spot, Reuters reported. A scuffle broke out between the farmers and the police at the scene, and some of the protesters were arrested.

One such breeder, Lee Kyong-sik, told Reuters last November: “If I have to close in the financial situation I am in, there is really no answer as to what I can do… 12 years and it is so sudden.

In a November news release, the Korean Dog Meat Association accused the government of “threatening to trample” the industry and proposing the bill “without a single discussion or interaction” with dog meat consumers or workers.

“No one has the right to take away the right to food of 10 million (dog meat consumers) and the right to survival of 1 million livestock farmers and workers,” it said in a press release.

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However, Lee, the HSI manager, expressed hope that the bill's grace period and relief measures would help keep dog breeders afloat.

“Based on our experience talking to industry staff at HSI, we know that most dog meat farmers and slaughterers want to get out of the industry, but they don't know how to get out of the industry,” he said.

“But now with the bill, with the compensation package (and) financial support from the government, I think it's the right time for them to leave the industry as well.”

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