South Korea is set to end the contentious practice of eating dog meat, responding to calls from both within and outside the country. While a small minority still consumes dog meat, especially in older generations, younger South Koreans have joined foreign media and animal rights advocates in calling for a ban. The government aims to enact a special law within the year, signaling a significant shift in public sentiment and paving the way for change.
- Government’s Plan to Ban Dog Meat:
- South Korea’s government announced plans to introduce a special law that would ban the breeding, slaughter, distribution, and sale of dogs for food.
- As part of this legislation, dogs will be excluded from the country’s Livestock Act, officially recognizing them as companion animals rather than a source of food.
- Current Status of Dog Meat Consumption:
- A 2022 report by South Korea’s national broadcaster, KBS, revealed that over half a million dogs were being raised for food, with 1,600 restaurants selling dog meat.
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs reported 1,156 farms breeding dogs for meat and 34 slaughterhouses as of February last year.
- Transition Period and Government Support:
- The government plans to implement a three-year grace period to facilitate the industry’s transition and closure, with enforcement starting in 2027.
- Support will be provided to assist businesses affected by the ban in adapting to alternative practices.
- Political Landscape and Public Support:
- South Korea’s ruling conservative People Power Party, along with its main rival, the Democratic Party, supports the ban on eating dog meat.
- With an election scheduled for April 2024, the ban is unlikely to face significant opposition.
- A 2023 survey by Korea Humane Society International and NielsenIQ showed that 57 percent of respondents supported the ban, and over 86 percent of adults had no intention of consuming dog meat in the future.
- Opposition and Industry Response:
- While the proposed ban has gained substantial public support, there has been vocal opposition, with an industry group rallying against it.
- Critics argue that the law infringes on people’s right to choose their diet and could harm farmers dependent on the dog meat industry.
South Korea’s decision to ban dog meat reflects changing attitudes within the country, particularly among the younger generation, and aligns with a global shift towards recognizing animals as companions rather than sources of food. The forthcoming legislation, supported by major political parties and public sentiment, marks a significant step in addressing the ethical concerns surrounding the practice of consuming dog meat in South Korea.