South Korea's parliament unanimously approved a special bill to criminalize the dog meat industry, a decision that has garnered widespread praise from animal rights advocates at home and abroad.Despite the absence of criminal charges for consuming dog meat in the law, it successfully puts a stop to the activity, a tradition that some claim has historical roots dating back centuries.
With the support of 208 votes and two abstentions, the ban is slated for implementation in 2027, following a grace period of three years. Those who violate the ban will be met with penalties, including a maximum prison term of three years or a fine of up to 30 million won ($22,752). Media reports suggest that the legislation encompasses compensation packages aimed at facilitating the transition of businesses out of the dog meat industry.
While dog meat, often served as part of a stew for tenderness, was historically considered a way to combat fatigue during hot summers, its consumption has significantly declined in recent decades. This decline is particularly notable among younger South Koreans who increasingly view dogs as family pets.
The latest survey from the Seoul-based think tank Animal Welfare Awareness, Research, and Education uncovered that in the past year, over 94% of those surveyed had avoided consuming dog meat, and 93% indicated their resolve to continue this practice in the future.
While consumption has decreased, the agriculture ministry's report indicates that there are still about 1,150 farms in South Korea dedicated to breeding dogs for meat, and around 1,600 restaurants persist in featuring dog meat dishes on their menus.
Sharing thoughts on this pivotal moment, JungAh Chae, the executive director of Humane Society International/Korea, expressed, "This marks a historic milestone. It never crossed my mind that I would live to see a prohibition on the cruel dog meat industry in South Korea. This momentous achievement for animals speaks volumes about the fervor and steadfast commitment of our animal protection movement."
Chae further stated, "We've reached a turning point where the majority of Korean citizens oppose the consumption of dogs and desire to witness the end of this suffering, and today our policymakers have taken decisive actions to actualize that vision."
While acknowledging the sorrow for the millions of dogs affected by the industry before the ban, Chae expressed joy for South Korea in closing this chapter and embracing a more dog-friendly future. The move signifies a significant shift in attitudes and practices, marking a historic victory for the animal rights movement in South Korea.