South Korea said it would set up a working group to consider banning the consumption of dog meat. About two months later, the president of the country proposed to study eating habits that ended hundreds of years.
In South Korea, there is less and less business in restaurants serving dog meat, because young people find that dog meat is not appetizing, and pets are becoming more and more popular in Korea. But recent surveys show that even if many people do not eat dog meat, more people oppose the prohibition of dog meat.
In a joint statement, seven government departments, including the Ministry of Agriculture, stated that they have decided to activate a group of officials, private experts and related organizations to make recommendations on the possible ban on the consumption of dog meat. It said the authorities will collect information about kennels, restaurants and other facilities while reviewing relevant public opinions.
This will be South Korea’s first such measure, but the government said that its introduction does not necessarily guarantee a ban on dog meat. This seemingly vague position caused rapid protests from dog owners and animal rights activists.
Farmers said that the establishment of the working group was just a form of closing their farms and dog meat restaurants, while activists believed that the government’s announcement lacked the determination to ban dog meat consumption.
Zhu Yongbang, secretary general of the Dog Breeders Association, accused the government of “trampling” the people’s right to eat what they want and the farmers’ right to survive. He said that farmers will boycott all discussions about dog meat that the government participates in as a protest.
Lee Won-bok, president of the Korea Animal Protection Association, called the government’s statement “very disappointing” because it did not contain any specific plans on how to ban the consumption of dog meat.
“We deeply doubt the government’s determination to end the consumption of dog meat,” Li said.
In South Korea, approximately 1-1.5 million dogs are killed for food every year, a decrease from the millions of dogs approximately 10-20 years ago. According to Ju’s organization, currently in South Korea, tens of thousands of farmers raise a total of about 1 to 2 million meat dogs.
Ju said that farmers, mainly the poor and the elderly, hope that the government will temporarily legalize dog meat consumption for about 20 years, and the demand is expected to gradually decrease. Li said the animal rights organization hopes to end this business sooner.
“South Korea is the only developed country where people eat dogs, and this behavior is damaging our international image,” Li said. “Even if the K-pop band BTS and (Korean drama) Squid Game rank first in the world, foreigners still associate South Korea with dog meat and the Korean War.”
Lee said that dogs are eaten as food in North Korea, China and Vietnam, and South Korea.
In a meeting with the prime minister in September, dog lover President Moon Jae-in asked “whether we should carefully consider banning dog meat”, sparking a new debate on the issue.
Dog meat is neither legal nor expressly prohibited in South Korea.