South Korea Passes Law To End Sale And Slaughter Of Dog Meat By 2027

Dog for sale in cages
Dogs for sale in Moran Market, Seongnam, South Korea. By 2027, sights like this will become a thing of the past. Image Credit: Kim Bartlett – Animal People, Inc via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

South Korea announced today a new law that will aim to end the sale and slaughter of dogs for their meat by 2027.

Currently, it is estimated that South Korea has around 1,600 dog meat restaurants and 1,150 dog farms in 2023, according to BBC News.

In the country, dog meat stew, or “boshintang”, is considered a delicacy among the older generation but with younger people it has fallen out of favor.

The ban will see that the raising and slaughtering of dogs for their meat will be banned, as will the practices of distributing and selling dog meat. The country’s national assembly voted to ban the breeding, butchery, distribution, and sale of dogs for their meat, it was announced. 

Under the new law, those that break these rules and slaughter dogs will face around three years in prison or a maximum fine of 30 million won ($23,000), while those selling dog meat or raising dogs for meat could serve a two-year sentence.

The consumption of dog meat itself will not become illegal. The law will come into place in 2027 to allow those involved in the dog meat industry to phase out their business and find alternative employment. The government of South Korea has said that it will support those whose businesses are affected but details of what that will look like have yet to be released.

Dogs in cage - Moran Market, Seongnam, South Korea
Dogs in cage – Moran Market, Seongnam, South Korea

Image Source: Animal People Forum

The change reflects a different attitude among the younger generation in South Korea who are more inclined to see dogs as family pets rather than have the view that dog meat is the same as pork or beef or chicken. According to a survey by Gallup Korea, and reported by CNN, the number of people who had eaten dog meat in the last 12 months had fallen from 27 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2022.

Not everyone is happy about the new law. Traditionally dog meat was consumed in the summer to help people beat the heat and was a cheap source of protein. 

“We’ve eaten this since the Middle Ages. Why stop us from eating our traditional food? If you ban dog meat then you should ban beef,” Kim Seon-ho, an 86-year-old Seoul local, told the BBC. 

Animal welfare campaigners on the other hand are thrilled with the news after they have been putting pressure on the government to make this change for many years.

“This is history in the making,” JungAh Chae, the executive director of Humane Society International/Korea, told the Guardian. “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.”

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