South Korean Dog Meat Farmers Threaten to Release 2 Million Dogs in Response to Proposed Ban

The Korea Dog Meat Farmers’ Association considers drastic action as a bill to end the dog meat trade gains bipartisan support

The Korea Dog Meat Farmers’ Association has threatened to release 2 million dogs near government landmarks in Seoul and the homes of lawmakers if a proposed ban on the dog meat trade is implemented. The threat comes as a bill, supported by both ruling and opposition parties, aims to phase out the industry by 2027. The bill includes a three-year grace period for businesses to transition out of the trade and proposes a maximum five-year jail sentence or a fine of 50 million won ($38,000) for offenders of the ban. The dog meat trade has faced increasing controversy due to animal cruelty concerns and changing attitudes towards dogs as household pets.

Rare Bipartisan Support for the Ban

The proposed ban on the dog meat trade in South Korea is the result of rare bipartisan support. A group of 44 lawmakers from both the ruling People Power Party and the opposition Democratic Party of Korea formed a coalition to discuss the issue. First lady Kim Keon-hee, who shares five cats and six dogs with President Yoon Suk Yeol, has been a prominent advocate for the ban. The bill has garnered international attention, with Kim mentioning the legislative development to Queen Camilla during a state visit to London.

Opposition from Dog Meat Farmers

The Korea Dog Meat Farmers’ Association strongly opposes the proposed ban, arguing that it would harm their livelihoods and erase a cultural tradition. The association claims that there are over 3,500 dog farms and 3,000 restaurants that would face closure if the ban is implemented. In the past, supporters of the dog meat trade have staged protests, including a dog meat tasting event in front of the National Assembly in 2019. The association’s chairman, Joo Young-bong, suggests that the dogs should be recognized as livestock and that farmers should be required to abide by food safety standards.

Changing Attitudes and Controversy

The centuries-old practice of eating dog meat in South Korea, traditionally believed to combat summer heat, has come under increasing controversy. Concerns about animal cruelty and the rising popularity of dogs as household pets have led to calls for a ban. According to a 2023 poll commissioned by Humane Society International, 86% of South Koreans have little intention of consuming dog meat, and 57% support a ban. A Gallup Korea poll from last year showed that 64% of respondents opposed dog meat consumption. The practice has also become a sore spot for South Korea’s international reputation, with critics arguing that it clashes with the country’s growing prominence in global culture.

Support from Animal Rights Groups

Animal rights groups have long campaigned for an end to the dog meat trade in South Korea. Humane Society International, which has participated in rescue operations on dog farms, has called the proposed ban a “dream come true.” The group has been working with dog meat farmers for nearly a decade to encourage them to transition to more sustainable livelihoods. Lola Webber, the director of HSI’s End Dog Meat campaign, explains that many farmers have felt societal and financial pressure to leave the industry due to declining demand for dog meat.

Conclusion: The proposed ban on the dog meat trade in South Korea has gained rare bipartisan support, with advocates arguing for animal welfare and a shift in cultural attitudes towards dogs. However, dog meat farmers strongly oppose the ban, citing the impact on their livelihoods and the erasure of a cultural tradition. The controversy surrounding the dog meat trade reflects the changing values and perceptions of animals in society. As the debate continues, the fate of the proposed ban remains uncertain, but the issue has sparked important conversations about animal rights and cultural practices in South Korea.






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