South Korea lawmaker introduces Special Act bill to ban dog meat industry

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Sangkyung Lee, Dog Meat Campaign Manager of HSI Korea, and Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response of HSI, rescue a dog at a dog meat farm in Asan, South Korea, on Tuesday, March 7, 2023

On 28 June, South Korean Democratic Party Assembly Member Jeoung-ae Han introduced a legislative bill that seeks to eliminate the dog meat industry. The bill is set to outlaw the breeding and slaughter of dogs for human consumption, prohibiting dog meat farms, dog slaughterhouses, and the sale of dog meat throughout South Korea – as well as supporting dog farmers to transition to alternative businesses.

The bill, called a Special Act, has been welcomed by Humane Society International Korea (HSI), which has been working on the ground in the country since 2015. HSI/Korea runs a scheme in the country working in partnership with dog farmers, to help them leave the dog meat industry and transition to a more humane livelihood. Several farmers have left the industry thanks to this scheme, remarking that dog meat farming has “no future” in South Korea.

Puppies are shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Asan, South Korea, on Monday, March 6, 2023.

An estimated one million dogs are still intensively bred on thousands of farms across the country, typically in extremely low-welfare conditions, with many stolen pets among them. However, as only a small minority of Koreans consuming dog meat, the trade has seen a growing opposition within the country – particularly among younger generations. The Special Act comes at a time of increasing public and political support for ending the dog meat industry in South Korea, with first lady Kim Keon-hee having openly called for a ban.

Borami Seo, director of government affairs at HSI/Korea who works closely with lawmakers to achieve legislation, says, “This is an historic moment for animal welfare in South Korea which hopefully marks the beginning of the end for the dog meat industry in our country. It’s clear that there is significant societal and political momentum to end South Korea’s dog meat era once and for all. This Special Act aims to establish the state plan to end the dog meat industry and offer farmers business transition opportunities that will also see an end to the abuse and suffering of hundreds of thousands of dogs each year for a meat that most people in Korea do not wish to eat.”

Puppies are shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Asan, South Korea, on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

“Dog meat consumption may have been a part of Korea’s past, but it has no place in our future. HSI/Korea’s Models for Change program provides a working blueprint for how we can phase out this industry in co-operation instead of conflict with farmers. It’s now time for our legislators to pass this Special Act so that together we can consign this dying industry to the history books.”

If the bill passes, financial support will be provided to close or transition legally registered dog farms, providing participating farmers with subsidies to support their transition, as well as career change training or guidance. The full ban on the breeding and slaughter of dogs for human consumption would come into effect five years after the law is passed.

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