Dog Meat Production, Sales Will Soon Become Illegal in South Korea

Animal rights activists attend a protest rally supporting the government-led dog meat banning bill at the National Assembly in Seul, South Korea, Tuesday, 9 January. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s parliament on Tuesday passed a landmark ban on the production and sale of dog meat, as public calls for a prohibition have grown sharply over concerns about animal rights and the country’s international image.

Some enraged dog farmers said they plan to challenge the bill’s constitutionality and hold protest rallies, a sign of continued heated debate over the ban.

After a three-year grace period, the bill would make slaughtering, breeding and sales of dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027 and punishable by 2-3 years in prison. It doesn’t provide any penalties for eating dog meat.

Dog meat consumption, a centuries-old practice on the Korean Peninsula, is neither explicitly banned nor legalized in South Korea. It has long been viewed as a source of stamina on hot summer days. Recent surveys show more than half of South Koreans want dog meat banned, and a majority no longer eat it. But one in every three South Koreans still opposes a ban, even though they don’t consume it.

The National Assembly passed the bill by a 208-0 vote. It will become law after being endorsed by the Cabinet Council and signed by President Yoon Suk Yeol, considered formalities since his government supports the ban.

“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 says.

The bill offers assistance to dog farmers and others in the industry in shutting down their businesses and shifting to alternatives. Details are to be worked out among government officials, farmers, experts and animal rights activists.