South Korean dog farmers threaten to flood Seoul with two million canines if government passes ban

Dog farmers argue banning dog meat from menus would devastate livelihoods

Maroosha Muzaffar
Friday 24 November 2023 11:39 GMT
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Animal Rights Charity asks people to 'choose compassion' in video outlining what happens in South Korea's Dog Meat Industry

South Korean dog farmers have threatened to unleash two million canines on Seoul if the government goes ahead with its proposed ban on dog meat.

The farmers argued that banning the controversial dog meat from menus across the country would deprive them of their livelihoods.

If implemented, the ban would come into effect in 2027 and the government has promised financial assistance to the farmers to support their businesses in transitioning away from the trade.

Joo Young-bong, head of the Korea Dog Meat Farmers’ Association, said the group would release two million dogs in the capital – especially near significant governmental locations and outside the homes of politicians.

“We’re so outraged that we’re talking about releasing two million dogs we’re raising near the presidential office, the agriculture minister’s home and offices of lawmakers who have introduced the bills,” he said.

“Eating dog meat cannot be a crime like trafficking drugs or prostitution,” Mr Joo told a radio news talk show, according to South China Morning Post.

“Have you ever heard of anyone whose dog meat consumption caused harm to others?”

About a week ago, when the South Korean government announced its plan to introduce a ban on dog meat, animal rights organisations celebrated the move across the world.

Nearly one million dogs are “farmed and killed for human consumption” in a year, according to Humane Society International.

“With so many dogs needlessly suffering for a meat that hardly anyone eats, the government’s bill delivers a bold plan that must now urgently be passed by the assembly so that a legislative ban can be agreed as soon as possible to help South Korea close this miserable chapter in our history and embrace a dog-friendly future,” JungAh Chae, executive director of Humane Society International, said in a statement.

South Korea’s ruling conservative People Power Party has put forth a bill suggesting a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment or fines of 50 million won ($38,000; £30,333) for individuals engaging in the dog meat trade. The liberal Democratic Party of Korea’s bill recommends three-year jail sentences and fines reaching up to 30 million won.

Cho Hee-kyung, head of the Korean Animal Welfare Association said that there was a decrease in the number of dog meat consumers and that there was a consensus forming in favour of banning the trade and consumption of dog meat.

But dog farmers in South Korea are devastated. “If I have to close down, with the financial condition I’m in, there really is no answer to what I can do,” Lee Kyeong-sig, who runs a farm outside Seoul raising up to 1,100 dogs, told Reuters. “I’ve been in this for 12 years and it is so sudden.”

According to a Gallup Korea poll conducted last year, nearly two-thirds of respondents opposed consuming dog meat. Only 8 per cent reported having eaten dog meat in the past year, a significant decrease from the 27 per cent in 2015.

The Korean Association of Edible Dogs, says far more farms and restaurants than those cited by the government will be affected, according to Reuters. The association said 3,500 farms raising 1.5 million dogs and 3,000 restaurants will have to shut down, almost twice the numbers stated by officials.

Additional reporting with agencies

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