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South Korean parliament passes bill to ban dog meat trade
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

11 January 2024

South Korean parliament passes bill to ban dog meat trade

This week, South Korea’s parliament passed a bill to ban the breeding, butchery, distribution and sale of dogs for their meat – a move that is likely to end the controversial practice. Animal welfare campaigners have hailed the decision as a “historic victory,” after years of pressure from both within the country and abroad. While the law does not criminalise consumption, the measures are set to bring an end to eating the animals, a practice that is said to date back centuries. The ban, which passed with 208 votes in support and two abstentions, will come into force in 2027 after a three-year grace period. Those found violating the ban will face up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of KRW 30 million (approx. £17,900). The bill does not stipulate any penalties for eating dog meat and seeks to provide compensation packages to help businesses move out of the industry. According to Reuters, the consumption of dog meat within the country has become rare and is “largely limited to some older people and specific restaurants,” as more Koreans consider dogs as pets and as criticism of how the dogs are slaughtered has grown. According to activists, many dogs are electrocuted or hanged when slaughtered for meat, though breeders and traders argue there has been progress in making the slaughtering more humane. Additionally, pet ownership in South Korea has increased in recent years, with government data showing that one in four Korean households owned a pet dog in 2022, up from 16% in 2010. Chae Jung-ah, executive director of animal protection group Humane Society International Korea, said: "This is history in the making. We have reached the tipping point where most Korean citizens reject eating dogs and want to see this suffering consigned to the history books and today our policymakers have acted decisively to make that a reality." He continued: "While my heart breaks for all the millions of dogs for whom this change has come too late, I am overjoyed that South Korea can now close this miserable chapter in our history and embrace a dog-friendly future”. Earlier this week Seoul-based think tank, Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education, released results of a survey in which more than 94% of respondents said they had not eaten dog meat for the past year and about 93% said they would not do so in the future. Despite the decline in consumption, about 1,150 farms continue to breed dogs for meat, while 1,600 restaurants sell dog meat dishes in South Korea, according to the agriculture ministry. Support for the ban has grown under President Yoon Suk Yeol, who owns six dogs and eight cats, an animal lover who is a vocal critic of dog meat consumption.

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