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South Korea bans dog meat trade

A bill to outlaw the sale and consumption of dog meat was approved by the South Korean parliament on Tuesday. This will put an end to the contentious, centuries-old practice at a time when concern over animal rights is gaining ground.

In the past, eating dog meat was thought to increase stamina during the hot Korean summer. However, the practice has become rare. It is mostly restricted to older generations, as more Koreans view dogs as family pets. According to government data, one in four Korean families had a pet dog in 2022, up from 16% in 2010.

There is also opposition to the inhumane methods used in the trade. The majority of dogs killed for meat are electrocuted or hanged, according to activists; however, breeders and dealers contend that efforts have been made to render the process more compassionate.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, an animal lover and owner of six dogs and eight cats, is a prominent opponent of the dog meat trade, and has supported the ban.

The bill, drafted by the ruling party, received unusual bipartisan support. It was passed by the single-chamber parliament by an overwhelming 208 votes to 2 abstentions.

After a three-year grace period, the law—whose stated goal is "to eradicate the consumption of dogs"—will come into force. Breeding and killing dogs for meat for human use will carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of thirty million won ($22,800). 

"This is history in the making," declared Chae Jung-ah, executive director of the animal advocacy organisation Humane Society International Korea. "We have reached the tipping point where most Korean citizens reject eating dogs and want to see this suffering consigned to the history books."

More than 94% of respondents to a poll conducted on Monday by the Seoul-based think tank Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education stated they had not eaten dog meat in the previous year, and almost 93% said they would not do so going forward.

Support for the prohibition has been reported in other polls at roughly 56%.


Edited by Tatyana Kekic



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