Seoul city council proposes bill to ban dog meat consumption

Humane Society International / South Korea


Jean Chung/HSI

SEOUL Humane Society International/Korea is encouraged to see reports that Yang Min-gyu, a Seoul city municipal council member, has proposed a bill calling on Seoul’s mayor to create a city-wide plan to ban the consumption of dog meat and promote a dog-friendly culture in Seoul.      

Nara Kim, dog meat campaign manager for Humane Society International/Korea said: “We welcome Seoul city’s proposed bill calling on the mayor to devise a plan to prohibit dog meat consumption, and its explicit recognition that all dogs are cherished family members who must be protected from the inherently cruel dog meat industry. As pet ownership rises exponentially in South Korea, so must our responsibilities to protect them from cruelty and exploitation. This proposed bill sends a powerful message to the national government just as its own task force gathers to deliberate a nationwide dog meat ban. We hope that a ban in Seoul will pave the way for an end to the brutal dog meat industry across the country, in line with public sentiment and national and global trends.” 

The proposed bill calls upon the mayor of Seoul to chart a course to ban dog meat eating and to promote a city-wide culture of dog welfare. As dog meat consumption and trade is not explicitly prohibited in South Korean national law, the municipal action is needed. According to research by Nielson Company Korea commissioned by HSI/Korea, Seoul has an estimated 436 dog meat restaurants in 2020.   

In November 2021, the South Korean government announced its plan to set up a task force to consider a ban on the eating of dog meat. The joint announcement by government ministries came after President Moon Jae-in suggested the time is right to consider a ban. The task force is expected to make recommendations on next steps in April this year.   

Since 2015 HSI/Korea has rescued more than 2,500 dogs from South Korean dog meat farms and permanently closed 17 dog farms in co-operation with farmers eager to exit the controversial and dying industry.  

Facts:  

  • HSI/Korea helps farmers transition to new, more humane and profitable livelihoods such as chili plant growing or water truck delivery. Most of the farmers with whom HSI/Korea has worked experience mounting societal, family and financial pressure to get out of farming dogs. With growing concern for animal welfare, and over six million pet dogs now living in Korean homes, demand for dog meat has dwindled.  
  • A 2020 opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows growing support for a ban on the dog meat trade, with nearly 84% of South Koreans saying they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% supporting a legislative ban on the trade.  
  • Although most people in South Korea don’t eat dog, the belief that dog meat soup will cool the body during the hot summer and build stamina still holds with some, particularly the older generation.  
  • In South Korea up to 1.5 million dogs a year are raised on thousands of farms across the country. Many of them are sold to butchers for Bok Nal season across July and August, to be killed by electrocution and sold for soup.  
  • Dog meat is banned in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, as well as the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, and Siem Reap province in Cambodia. An estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat in other parts of Asia.  

Download photos/video of HSI/Korea’s dog meat farm closure program in action.

ENDS

Media contacts:

· South Korea: Nara Kim, nkim@hsi.org

· USA: Melissa Smith, mmsmith@humanesociety.org

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