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November 22, 2018

South Korea shuts down its largest dog meat slaughterhouse in what animal groups hail as a landmark moment in the demise of the dog meat trade

The dog meat industry is increasingly unwelcome in Korean society, says HSI/Korea

Humane Society International

  • Michael Bernard/HSI

  • Michael Bernard/HSI

  • Michael Bernard/HSI

  • Michael Bernard/HSI

  • Michael Bernard/HSI

  • Michael Bernard/HSI

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SEOUL—Taepyeong, the largest dog slaughterhouse in South Korea, has been shut down by local authorities in a move hailed by animal campaigners as a landmark moment in the demise of the country’s brutal dog meat trade. Humane Society International/Korea, Korea Animal Rights Advocates and the Korean Animal Welfare Association were on site to assist Seongnam City Council and witness the historic event. Watch on Facebook live.

The council intends to build a community park on the land, creating a fun public space where once hundreds of thousands of dogs a year were gathered from the country’s thousands of dog meat farms to be killed by electrocution.

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Humane Society International/Korea dog meat campaigners on the scene report that conditions they saw inside the slaughterhouse were horrifying. They found a large number of empty wire pens that would once have held hundreds of dogs, as well as the electrocution equipment used to kill them, knives, and a de-hairing maching. A pile of dead dogs was also found abandoned on the floor.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner said from the scene: “Both as a Korean citizen and an animal campaigner, it was incredibly moving for me to a part of the historic closure of this notorious dog slaughterhouse. I shudder to think how many millions of beautiful dogs will have met their horrific fate at this place over the years. It was a stain on the city of Seongnam and we are so pleased to see it bulldozed. This really feels like a landmark moment in the demise of the dog meat industry in South Korea, and sends the clear message that the dog meat industry is increasingly unwelcome in Korean society.”

Taepyeong comprises six individual slaughterhouses, five of which will be bulldozed immediately; permission to destroy the sixth building was not secured in time for the closure however all its cages will be destroyed and equipment removed so that it is no longer operational.

In addition to the closure of the slaughterhouses, the operation will culminate in the closure of the last remaining ‘bricks & mortar’ vendor selling live dogs at Moran Market. Moran was once the largest dog meat market in South Korea, but in recent times the number of dog meat shops has decreased due to closure efforts by local authorities. Although pop-up market stalls selling dog meat can still be seen at Moran, the closure of the final permanent vendor selling live dogs at the site represents a major victory in dismantling the once infamous dog meat market.

The closure of Taepyeong comes at a time when dog meat consumption is declining rapidly in South Korea, particularly among younger generations. A survey by Gallup Korea conducted in June 2018 shows that 70 percent of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in future, and a series of recent moves to curb the dog meat trade reflects a society increasingly ill at ease with the industry. In April this year, Incheon District Court in Bucheon fined a farmer under the Animal Protection Act for unlawful animal slaughter, ruling that meat consumption was not a legal justification to kill dogs. In August, Seoul City announced there will be no more dog slaughterhouses at Kyungdong Market in Dongdaemun from next year. In the same month operators of an illegal dog slaughterhouse were prosecuted for water pollution, and President Moon Jae-In’s Blue House pledged to consider removing dogs and cats from the legal definition of livestock. Most recently in September a Supreme Court struck down a lower court decision to allow dog electrocution (the favoured method of the dog meat trade), saying the method is "too cruel."

Humane Society International’s pioneering program of dog meat farm closures over the past nearly 4 years has helped shine a much-needed spotlight on the cruelty. The charity works in partnership with dog farmers who want to leave the increasingly controversial business, helping them transition to more profitable and more humane livelihoods such as growing mushrooms or water parsley. It’s a proof-of-concept project that aims to demonstrate to the government how to phase out the dog meat industry for good. So far HSI has permanently closed 13 dog farms and rescued nearly 1,600 dogs, who are flown to shelter and rescue partners in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Korea Animal Rights Advocates is an HSI/Korea partner group, and the two organisations recently teamed up to present a petition of nearly 1 million signatures to the President’s Blue House, calling for an end to the dog meat trade.

Hyunji Kim of Korea Animal Rights Advocates says: “We have been making constant efforts to shut down the Taepyeong-dong dog slaughterhouse through investigations and putting pressure on Gyeonggi province and Seongnam-si. As Korea’s biggest, brutal, illegal dog slaughterhouse, Taepyeong-dong is notorious for supplying huge amounts of dog bodies to nearby Seongnam Moran traditional market. Its closure is an historical event, and hopefully may trigger the closure of other illegal dog slaughterhouses throughout the country. Until we achieve this, we really appreciate the support of both Korean people and global citizens who love animals for helping our campaigns to completely end dog meat in Korea.”

Korea Animal Welfare Association has campaigned against the dog meat trade for many years. KAWA’s Iltaek Chae, says: “The slaughterers in Taepyeong have long been accumulating their wealth and a huge number of dogs have been killed over the years. It is hoped that the closure of this horrific dog slaughterhouse can halt the suffering of more dogs in the future, and help trigger the collapse of the dog meat industry in Korea.” Give now to support our lifesaving work.

Photos and video of the dog slaughterhouse closure are available for download here (warning: graphic content) Please check back regularly as more images/video will be added throughout the day.

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