South Korea today said it will launch a task force to consider a ban on eating dog meat after the country’s President called for an end to the centuries-old practice.
Meat from canines constitutes a major part of South Korean cuisine with about one million dogs believed to be eaten annually, but consumption has declined in recent years as more people embrace them as pets and younger people find the delicacy less appealing.
Seven government offices including the Agriculture Ministry said they launched a taskforce to deliver recommendations on possibly outlawing dog meat consumption.
They said authorities will gather information on dog farms, restaurants and other facilities while examining public opinion.
The move came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is himself a dog lover, said the traditional practice should be stopped to avoid international embarrassment.
South Korea today said it will launch a task force to consider a ban on eating dog meat after the country’s President called for an end to the centuries-old practice. Pictured: Dogs are kept in cages at a dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for the end of to the consumption of dog meat in September
The seven government offices said in a statement that ‘public awareness of their basic rights and animal rights issues are tangled in a complicated manner’ when it comes to dog meat consumption.
Public opinion suggests ‘people have negative views both about eating dogs and legally banning it,’ it added.
The taskforce will comprise of officials, civilian experts and people from related organizations with the aim of delivering recommendations.
The government says the initiative, the first of its kind, doesn’t necessarily guarantee the banning of dog meat. The seemingly vague stance drew quick protests from both dog farmers and animal rights activists.
Farmers say the task force’s launch is nothing but a formality to shut down their farms and dog meat restaurants, while activists argue the government’s announcement lacks resolve to outlaw dog meat consumption.
Ju Yeongbong, general secretary of an association of dog farmers, accused the government of ‘trampling upon’ the people’s right to eat what they want and farmers’ right to live.
Lee Won Bok, head of the Korea Association for Animal Protection, called the government’s announcement ‘very disappointing’ because it didn’t include any concrete plans on how to ban dog meat consumption.
‘We have deep doubt about whether the government has a resolve to put an end to dog meat consumption,’ Lee said.
Meat from canines constitutes a major part of South Korean cuisine with about one million dogs believed to be eaten annually, but consumption has declined in recent years. Pictured: Dogs are kept in a small cage waiting to be sold in Songnam, near Seoul
Restaurants that serve dog meat in South Korea as pets are growing in popularity.
The practice is now something of a taboo among younger generations and pressure from animal rights activists has also been mounting.
Nearly 1.5million dogs are killed each year for food in South Korea, a decrease from several millions about 10-20 years ago. Thousands of farmers currently raise a total of about 1 million to 2 million dogs for meat in South Korea, according to Ju’s organization.
Ju said the farmers, mostly poor, elderly people, want the government to temporarily legalize dog meat consumption for about 20 years, with the expectation that demand will gradually taper off. Lee said animal rights organizations want a quicker end of the business.
‘South Korea is the only developed country where people eat dogs, an act that is undermining our international image,’ Lee said. ‘Even if the K-pop band BTS and the Korean drama Squid Game are ranked No. 1 in the world, foreigners are still associating South Korea with dog meat and the Korean War.’
Lee accused many farmers of animal cruelty and other illegal activities when they raise and slaughter their dogs. Ju said that activists ‘exaggerated’ such information, and that it only applies to a small number of farms.
The practice is now something of a taboo among younger generations and pressure from animal rights activists has also been mounting
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 his prime minister ‘if it’s time to carefully consider’ a ban of dog meat consumption, sparking a new debate over the issue.
Dog meat is neither legal nor explicitly banned in South Korea.