South Korea bans dog meat, now unpopular food

South Korea bans dog meat, now unpopular food

South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday banned the breeding, slaughtering and sale of dogs for human consumption, a centuries-old practice that is now unpopular and rare.

Dog meat was common again and remained so in the decades after the Korean War, when the country was destitute and meat was scarce. It is used in a well-known dish that Koreans call “bosintang” or “body-healthy soup.” But the practice was increasingly avoided as income, pet ownership, and concern for animal welfare steadily increased in the late 20th century.

Today, many South Koreans, especially younger ones, consider eating dog meat appalling. About 93 percent of South Korean adults said they did not plan to consume dog meat in the future, and 82 percent said they supported a ban, according to a report. investigation carried out last year by Aware, an animal welfare organization in Seoul.

“This is history in the making that I never thought I would see in my life,” Chae Jung-ah, director of the Humane Society International Korea, said in a statement from the group. She added: “We have reached a tipping point where most Korean citizens refuse to eat dogs. »

With the adoption of the ban, South Korea joined a list of other countries that have banned the dog meat trade, including Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. indicated the group. Millions of dogs are still killed each year for their meat in countries like Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, according to Four legsan animal protection organization in Austria.

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s cabinet is expected to officially put the ban into effect. Mr. Yoon and Kim Keon Hee, the first lady, who own many pet dogs and cats, campaigned for the ban. The president managed to succeed after previous governments failed to muster enough support to end the practice.

Under the law, which adopted by the National Assembly With widespread support, a person who slaughters dogs for human consumption could be sentenced to three years in prison or fined 30 million South Korean won, or about $23,000, after a three-year grace period. years. Breeding and selling the animals would be punishable by two years in prison or a fine of 20 million won.

The law will also provide financial incentives for dog breeders and owners of restaurants serving dog meat to change jobs, requiring each to submit a phase-out plan to the local government.

In 2022, approximately 520,000 dogs were raised for human consumption on 1,150 farms and approximately 1,600 restaurants sold dog meat nationwide. according to legislators — considerably lower than in past years.

An association of dog breeders protested the bill in the months before its passage, arguing that eating dog meat was a matter of individual choice and demanding more compensation for breeders who would lose their businesses to following a ban.

The passage of the law marked a milestone for animal welfare activists who have pushed for the ban for years. Since 2015, they have helped 18 dog breeders to close their operations or turn to market gardens. Farmers abandoned their animals to adopt them as pets.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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