South Korea passes bill banning dog meat trade

The slaughter and selling of dogs for meat in South Korea has been outlawed

South Korea’s parliament has endorsed landmark legislation banning the country's dwindling dog meat industry.

Public calls for the ban have grown sharply amid animal rights campaigns and worries about the country’s international image in recent years.

Some angry dog farmers said they plan to file a constitutional appeal and launch rallies in protest, a suggestion that heated debate over the ban would continue.

Dog meat consumption, a centuries-old practice on the Korean Peninsula, is neither explicitly banned nor legalised in South Korea.

Recent surveys show more people want its ban and a majority of South Koreans don’t eat dog meat any longer. Credit: AP

It remains most widespread in China, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Nagaland, northern India.

Recent surveys show more people want its ban and a majority of South Koreans don’t eat dog meat any longer.

But the surveys also indicated one in every three South Koreans still oppose the ban even though they do not eat dog meat.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly passed the bill by a 208-0 vote.

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government supports the ban, so the subsequent steps to make it law are considered formality.

"This law is aimed at contributing to realising the values of animal rights, which pursue respect for life and a harmonious co-existence between humans and animals," the legislation reads.

The bill would make the slaughtering, breeding, trade and sales of dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027 and punish such acts with two to three years in prison.

But it does not stipulate penalties for eating dog meat.

The bill would offer assistance to farmers and others in the industry for shutting down their businesses or shifting to alternatives.

Details of outlawing the industry would be worked out among government officials, farmers, experts and animal rights activists, according to the bill.

Humane Society International called the legislation’s passage “history in the making.”

“I never thought I would see in my lifetime a ban on the cruel dog meat industry in South Korea, but this historic win for animals is testament to the passion and determination of our animal protection movement,” said JungAh Chae, executive director of HSI’s Korea office.

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