South Korea said today 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 age-old practice.
Canine meat is an important part of South Korean cuisine with an estimated one million dogs 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 agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, said they have set up a task force to make recommendations on potentially banning dog meat consumption.
They said authorities will gather information on dog farms, restaurants and other facilities as they survey public opinion.
The move came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is a dog lover himself, said the traditional practice must be stopped to avoid international embarrassment.
South Korea said today 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 age-old practice. Pictured: Dogs are caged at a dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for an end to dog meat consumption in September
The seven government offices said in a statement that “public awareness of their basic rights and animal rights issues is entangled in a complicated way” when it comes to dog meat consumption.
Public opinion suggests that “people have negative views about both eating dogs and banning them by law,” it added.
The task force will be made up of officials, civilian experts and people from related organizations with the aim of making recommendations.
The government says the initiative, the first of its kind, does not necessarily guarantee a ban on dog meat. The seemingly vague attitude sparked rapid protests from dog farmers and animal rights activists alike.
Farmers say the task force’s launch is nothing more than a formality to close their farms and dog meat restaurants, while activists argue the government’s announcement lacks determination to ban the consumption of dog meat.
Ju Yeongbong, general secretary of a dog breeder’s association, accused the government of “trampling” 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 there were no concrete plans to ban dog meat consumption.
“We have serious doubts about the government’s determination to end dog meat consumption,” Lee said.
Canine meat is an important part of South Korean cuisine. It is estimated that about one million dogs are eaten each year, but consumption has declined in recent years. Pictured: Dogs are kept in a small cage, waiting to be sold in Songnam, near Seoul
Restaurants serving dog meat as pets in South Korea are becoming increasingly popular.
The practice is now something of a taboo among younger generations and pressure from animal rights activists is also mounting.
In South Korea, nearly 1.5 million dogs are killed for food every year. a decrease of several million about 10-20 years ago. According to Ju’s organization, thousands of farmers currently breed a total of about 1 million to 2 million dogs for meat in South Korea.
Ju said farmers, mostly poor, elderly people, want the government to temporarily legalize dog meat consumption for about 20 years, expecting demand to gradually decline. Lee said animal rights groups want a faster end to the company.
“South Korea is the only developed country where people eat dogs, an act that undermines our international image,” Lee said. “Even if the K-pop band BTS and the Korean drama Squid Game are number 1 in the world, foreigners still associate South Korea with dog meat and the Korean War.”
Lee accused many farmers of animal cruelty and other illegal activities in raising and slaughtering their dogs. Ju said 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 is also increasing
According to Lee, dogs are consumed as food in North Korea, China and Vietnam as well as South Korea.
In September, during a meeting with his prime minister, President Moon Jae-in, a dog lover, asked “whether it is time to carefully consider” a ban on the consumption of dog meat, sparking a new debate on the issue.
Dog meat is neither legal nor explicitly prohibited in South Korea.