Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Year : 1, Issue : 19
South Korea’s parliament on Tuesday passed a landmark ban on production and sales of dog meat, as public calls for a prohibition have grown sharply over concerns about animal rights and the country’s international image.
Some angry dog farmers said they plan to challenge the bill’s constitutionality and hold protest rallies, a sign of continued heated debate over the ban.
The bill would make slaughtering, breeding and sales of dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027 and punishable by 2-3 years in prison. It doesn’t provide any penalties for eating dog meat.
Dog meat consumption, a centuries-old practice on the Korean Peninsula, is neither explicitly banned nor legalized in South Korea. Recent surveys show more than half of South Koreans want dog meat banned and a majority no longer eat it. But one in every three South Koreans still opposes a ban even though they don’t consume it.
The National Assembly passed the bill by a 208-0 vote. It will become law after being endorsed by the Cabinet Council and signed by President Yoon Suk Yeol, considered formalities since his government supports the ban.
Humane Society International called the legislation’s passage “history in the making.”
But farmers were extremely upset by the bill’s passage.
“This is a clear case of state violence as they are infringing on our freedom to choose our occupation,” said Son Won Hak, a farmer and former leader of a farmers’ association.
Son said dog farmers will file a petition with the Constitutional Court of Korea and hold demonstrations. He said farmers will meet on Wednesday to discuss other steps.
There is no reliable official data on the exact size of South Korea’s dog meat industry. Activists and farmers say hundreds of thousands of dogs are slaughtered for meat each year.
The anti-dog meat campaign received a huge boost from the country’s first lady, Kim Keon Hee, who has repeatedly expressed her support for a prohibition. She has become the subject of withering criticism and crude insults during demonstrations by farmers.