SEOUL—As South Korea’s Boknal season begins, marking the hottest days of summer during which dog meat ‘bosintang’ soup is commonly eaten, animal group Humane Society International is urging South Korea to join other countries across Asia in cracking down on the dog meat trade.
Although banned in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, an estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat in other parts of Asia, including in South Korea where around 2 million dogs a year are raised on thousands of farms across the country. Many of them will be sold to butchers for Boknal season which begins this week, to be killed by electrocution and sold for soup. Although most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog, the belief that dog meat soup will cool the blood during the hot summer still holds with many, particularly the older generation. Despite the president’s Blue House pledge in 2018 to consider removing dogs from the legal definition of livestock and noting the need for the government “to consider solutions for dog meat related workers”, no such action has been taken.
In recent weeks a number of dog meat trade hot spot countries have started to take action to advance localised bans. In April, as part of Covid-19 food safety review, the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai introduced the mainland’s first legislatives bans against dog and cat meat consumption, in what HSI is hoping will set a trend for other Chinese cities to follow. Earlier this month, India’s Government of Nagaland issued a comprehensive ban on the trade in live dogs and dog meat, sparing an estimated 30,000 dogs a year who are brutally slaughtered in the region’s notorious ‘death pits’. And most recently, Siem Reap became the first province in Cambodia to ban the sale and consumption of dog meat.
Jeff Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said: “Countries and governments across Asia have been advancing regional and local bans on dog meat in recent times, in an effort to protect both animal welfare and public health. Yet in South Korea the government has so far failed to take action to end the suffering of millions of dogs languishing on farms to be killed for meat. During the Boknal summer season, many thousands of these dogs will die just to be made into soup, and that’s a habit we’re glad to see Koreans increasingly questioning. But we are also urging President Moon Jae-in to join with other countries across Asia by taking action to dismantle this outdated and cruel industry.”
HSI in South Korea works in partnership with dog meat farmers to permanently close down dog meat farms and help them switch to alternative livelihoods as part of the charity’s strategy to demonstrate that the cruel trade can be phased out. It’s a strategy that so far has seen HSI close down 16 dog meat farms and rescue more than 2,000 dogs who are adopted out to loving homes in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada through the help of placement partners.
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