South Korea’s parliament made history by passing a groundbreaking bill that bans the eating and selling of dog meat. This move marks the end of a centuries-old practice that has been increasingly criticized in the face of growing support for animal welfare.
Eating dog meat in South Korea was once considered a way to improve stamina, particularly during the humid Korean summer. However, the practice has become rare, limited mainly to older individuals and specific restaurants. This shift is attributed to changing attitudes toward dogs as family pets and mounting criticism regarding the inhumane methods used to slaughter them.
Changing Perspectives and Presidential Influence
Support for the ban has grown significantly under the leadership of President Yoon Suk Yeol, an avid animal lover who, along with first lady Kim Keon Hee, owns six dogs and eight cats. The increasing prevalence of pet ownership in South Korea, with one in four households owning a pet dog in 2022, has also contributed to changing perspectives on dog meat consumption.
Legislation Details and Three-Year Grace Period
Proposed by the ruling party and enjoying rare bipartisan support, the bill passed with an overwhelming majority of 208 votes and two abstentions in the single-chamber parliament. The legislation aims to “eradicate the consumption of dogs” and will take effect after a three-year grace period. The breeding and slaughtering of dogs for human consumption will be punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won ($22,800). Notably, the bill does not stipulate penalties for individuals consuming dog meat.
Public Opinion and Support
Public sentiment in favor of the ban has seen a significant upswing. A survey conducted by Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education revealed that over 94% of respondents had not consumed dog meat in the past year, and about 93% expressed a commitment to abstain from it in the future. Despite other polls showing approximately 56% backing for the ban, this legislation is a pivotal step toward aligning South Korea with global standards of animal welfare.
Challenges and Industry Response
Efforts to ban the sales of dog meat in the past faced industry protests, and the current bill seeks to address this by providing compensation for businesses transitioning out of the trade. The Korean Association of Edible Dogs, a coalition of breeders and sellers, plans to challenge the law’s legitimacy in the Constitutional Court. Prior to the bill’s passage, the association demanded compensation of at least 2 million won ($1,520) per dog to cover losses over the next five years.
Government Response and Future Impact
The agriculture ministry, in response to the ban, has committed to consulting with relevant businesses to ensure stable operations and provide maximum support within a reasonable range. As of April 2022, an estimated 1,100 farms were breeding 570,000 dogs for consumption at approximately 1,600 restaurants. The ban is expected to impact 3,500 farms raising 1.5 million dogs and 3,000 restaurants, emphasizing the need for a coordinated effort to facilitate a smooth transition for affected businesses.
Important Questions Related to Exams
1. What is the primary purpose of the recently passed bill in South Korea?
A) To promote dog breeding for pets
B) To regulate the dog meat industry
C) To ban the consumption and sale of dog meat
2. What is the penalty for breeding and slaughtering dogs for human consumption under the new legislation?
a) Up to five years in prison
b) Up to three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won ($22,800)
c) No specified penalties
3. Which organization conducted a survey revealing that over 94% of respondents had not eaten dog meat in the past year?
A) Korean Animal Welfare Association
B) Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education
C) Humane Society International Korea
Kindly share your responses in the comment section.