Pressure grows on South Korea to ban dog meat ahead of Bok Nal days

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Campaigners call for ban ahead of bok nal days
Photo by Jean Chung for HSI

Humane Society International is urging South Korea to join other countries across Asia in cracking down on the dog meat trade as Bok Nal season begins – the days of summer during which bosintang soup, which includes dog meat, is commonly eaten.

Every year, an estimated two million dogs are farmed for slaughter in dog meat farms across South Korea. Humane Society International (HSI) states, “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.”

A mother dog inside a puppy mill is shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Hongseong-gun, South Korea

In recent months, regional and local bans on the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat have been passed in several Asian countries. In April, the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai banned the practice as part of a Covid-19 food safety review. In June, China’s ministry of agriculture confirmed dogs and cats “are not livestock for eating”, giving campaigners hope that this may “pave the way” for a nationwide ban.

In March Mizoram, in northeastern India, amended the law to remove dogs from the definition of animals suitable for slaughter, and earlier this month, India’s Government of Nagaland passed a comprehensive ban on the trade in live dogs and dog meat. Most recently, Siem Reap became the first province in Cambodia to ban the sale and consumption of dog meat. 

Nara Kim, Campaign Manager in South Korea of HSI, cuddles George at a dog meat farm in Namyangju.

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 Bok Nal 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 phase our the dog meat industry.

Images by HSI

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