South Korea’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday to ban the eating and selling of dog meat, a move that will end the controversial centuries-old practice amid growing support for animal welfare.
The National Assembly passed the bill by a 208-0 vote in a move hailed as ‘history in the making’ by activists.
‘This law is aimed at contributing to realizing the values of animal rights, which pursue respect for life and a harmonious co-existence between humans and animals,’ the legislation reads.
Breeding, selling, and slaughtering dogs for their meat will be punishable by up to three years in prison or 30 million won (£18,000) in fines under the new law, which will come into effect after a three-year grace period.
Some angry dog farmers said they plan to file a constitutional appeal and launch rallies in protest.
Dog meat consumption, a centuries-old practice on the Korean Peninsula, is neither explicitly banned nor legalised in South Korea.
Eating dog meat was once seen as a way to improve stamina in the humid Korean summer. But the practise has become rare and largely limited to some older people and specific restaurants as more Koreans consider dogs as family pets and as criticism of how the dogs are slaughtered has grown.
Activists say most dogs are electrocuted or hanged when slaughtered for meat, though breeders and traders argue there has been progress in making the slaughtering more humane.
Recent surveys show more people want its ban and a majority of South Koreans don’t eat dog meat any longer. But the surveys also indicated one in every three South Koreans still oppose the ban even though they don’t eat dog meat.
The government would offer assistance to farmers and others in the industry for shutting down their businesses or shifting to alternatives. Details of outlawing the industry would be worked out among government officials, farmers, experts, and animal rights activists, according to the bill.
Humane Society International called the legislation’s passage ‘history in the making.’
‘I never thought I would see in my lifetime a ban on the cruel dog meat industry in South Korea, but this historic win for animals is testament to the passion and determination of our animal protection movement,’ said JungAh Chae, executive director of HSI’s Korea office.
The legislation left farmers extremely upset and frustrated.
‘This is a clear state violence as they’re infringing upon freedom of occupational option. We can’t just sit idly,’ said Son Won Hak, a farmer and leader of a farmers’ association.
Son said dog farmers will file a petition to the constitutional court and launch rallies in protest. He said farmers will meet Wednesday to discuss other future steps.