animal rights activists attend a protest rally supporting the government-led dog meat banning bill at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024.
animal rights activists attend a protest rally supporting the government-led dog meat banning bill at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. AP

Law passed banning sales of dog meat

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s parliament on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, passed a landmark ban on production and sales of dog meat, as public calls for a prohibition have grown sharply over concerns about animal rights and the country’s international image.

Some angry dog farmers said they plan to challenge the bill’s constitutionality and hold protest rallies, a sign of continued heated debate over the ban.

After a three-year grace period, the bill would make slaughtering, breeding and sales of dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027 and punishable by two-three years in prison. It doesn’t provide any penalties for eating dog meat.

Dog meat consumption, a centuries-old practice on the Korean Peninsula, is neither explicitly banned nor legalized in South Korea. It has long been viewed as a source of stamina on hot summer days.

Recent surveys show more than half of South Koreans want dog meat banned and a majority no longer eat it. But one in every three South Koreans still opposes a ban even though they don’t consume it.

The National Assembly passed the bill by a 208-0 vote. It will become law after being endorsed by the Cabinet Council and signed by President Yoon Suk Yeol, considered formalities since his government supports the ban.

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

Assistance to dog farmers

The bill offers assistance to dog farmers and others in the industry in shutting down their businesses and shifting to alternatives. Details are to be worked out among government officials, farmers, experts and animal rights activists.

Dozens of animal rights activists gathered at the National Assembly to celebrate the bill’s passage. They carried large photos of dogs, chanted slogans and held placards reading “Dog meat-free Korea is coming.”

Humane Society International called the legislation’s passage “history in the making.”

“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,” said JungAh Chae, executive director of HSI’s Korea office.

Dogs are also eaten in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, North Korea and in some African countries. But South Korea’s dog meat industry has drawn more attention because of the country’s reputation as a cultural and economic powerhouse. It’s also the only nation with industrial-scale dog farms. Most farms in South Korea raise about 500 dogs, but one visited by The Associated Press in July had about 7,000.

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