SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – South Korea said on Thursday it will launch a task force to look into the outlawed consumption of dog meat after the country’s president suggested considering ending the centuries-old practice. .
Restaurants serving dog meat are dwindling in South Korea as young people see dog meat as a less palatable eating option and pets grow in popularity. Recent surveys show that an increasing number of people oppose the ban on eating dog meat even if many people do not.
In a statement, seven government offices including the Ministry of Agriculture said they had decided to form a group consisting of officials, civil experts and people from relevant organizations to make recommendations on the can ban the consumption of dog meat. It said authorities would collect information on dog camps, restaurants and other facilities while checking public opinion.
“Due to the rapidly increasing number of families with pets and the growing public interest in animal rights and welfare in our country, it is increasingly being argued that it is now difficult to consider dog meat consumption is just a traditional eating culture,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, the country’s No. 2 official, said before releasing the statement.
The government says the first initiative of its kind does not necessarily guarantee a ban on dog meat. The joint statement notes that “community awareness of basic rights (to eat preferred foods) and animal rights issues is complicatedly mixed” when it comes to consumption. dog meat.
The seemingly ambiguous stance drew swift opposition from both dog owners and animal rights activists.
Farmers argue that the task force’s launch is nothing more than a form of closing their dog meat farms and restaurants, while activists say the government’s announcement lacks resolve. in banning the consumption of dog meat.
Ju Yeongbong, general secretary of the dog owners’ association, accused the government of “trampling” on people’s right to eat what they want and the right to life.
Lee Won Bok, head of the Korea Animal Welfare Association, called the government’s announcement “very disappointing” as it did not include any concrete plans on how to ban the consumption of dog meat.
“We have deep doubts about whether the government is determined to end the consumption of dog meat,” Lee said.
About 1 million to 1.5 million dogs are killed each year for food in South Korea, down from several million about 10-20 years ago. According to Ju’s organization, thousands of farmers currently raise a total of about 1 million to 2 million dogs for meat in Korea.
The farmers, mostly poor and elderly, want the government to temporarily legalize the consumption of dog meat for about 20 years, with the expectation that demand will dwindle, Ju said. Lee said animal rights organizations want to close the business faster.
“Korea is the only developed country where people eat dog meat, an act that is damaging our international image,” Lee said. “Even if K-pop band BTS and (Korean TV series) Squid Game are ranked #1 in the world, foreigners still associate Korea with dog meat and the Korean War.”
Lee has accused many farmers of animal cruelty and other illegal activities when they raise and slaughter their dogs. Ju says activists have “exaggerated” such information, and that it only applies to a handful of farms.
According to Lee, dogs are consumed as food in North Korea, China and Vietnam as well as in South Korea.
In September, President Moon Jae-in, a dog lover, asked during a meeting with the prime minister “if it is time to carefully consider” the ban on eating dog meat, sparking a new debate about the issue. this topic.
Dog meat is not legal and is not explicitly banned in South Korea.