South Korea plans to ban eating dog meat and end controversy over the ancient custom amid growing awareness of animal rights, the ruling party’s policy chief said on Friday.
The Korean practice of eating dogs has drawn criticism from abroad for its cruelty, but there is also growing opposition at home, particularly from the younger generation.
“It is time to end social conflicts and disputes over dog meat consumption by enacting a special act to end it,” Yu Eui-dong, policy chief of the ruling People’s Power Party, told a meeting with government officials. and animal rights activists.
The government and ruling party will introduce a bill this year to impose a ban, Yu said, adding that with expected bipartisan support, the bill will move through parliament.
Agriculture Minister Chung Hwang-keun told the meeting that the government will implement the ban quickly and provide maximum support to those working in the dog meat industry to close their businesses.
First Lady Kim Keon Hee has strongly criticized the consumption of dog meat and, along with her husband, President Yoon Suk Yeol, has adopted stray dogs.
Anti-dog meat bills have failed in the past due to protests from industry insiders and concerns about the livelihoods of farmers and restaurant owners.
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The proposed ban would include a three-year grace period and financial support for businesses to transition from the trade.
Eating dog meat has been an ancient practice on the Korean peninsula and is considered a way to beat the summer heat.
But it is much less common than it used to be in South Korea, although it is still eaten by some older people and served in some restaurants.
Animal rights groups welcomed the prospect of a ban. “A dream come true for all of us who have campaigned so hard to end this cruelty,” Humane Society International said in a statement.
There are about 1,150 dog breeding farms, 34 slaughterhouses, 219 distribution companies and about 1,600 restaurants that serve dogs, according to government figures.
A Gallup poll in Korea last year showed that 64% were opposed to eating dog meat. The survey found that only 8% of respondents had eaten dog in the past year, down from 27% in 2015.
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