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South Korea Announces Plan to Ban Their Dog Meat Industry — “Like a Dream Come True”

The legislation aims to end the practice by 2027. Here’s what you can do to help right now.

by Sio Hornbuckle
November 17, 2023
Korean K9 rescue volunteer holding small dog.
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After years of growing opposition from local and international organizations alike, the People Power Party of South Korea has introduced an act to end the South Korean dog meat trade by 2027. 

According to Humane Society International (HSI), the dog meat trade is responsible for the deaths of roughly 30 million dogs each year. One million of those deaths occur in South Korea, where there are large-scale breeding farms. “Dogs on South Korean meat farms are kept locked in small, barren metal cages, left exposed to the elements and given just enough food, water or shelter to keep them alive,” the HSI reports

The dog meat’s trade declining popularity 

In recent years, the industry has faced massive scrutiny. “I mean 10 years ago, it was a different story. There were 17,000 dog-meat farms across the country, in the countryside,” says Gina Boehler, founder of Korean K9 Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs who are victims of the dog meat trade. “Rescue organizations in Korea say now it’s about half of that or less. It’s a very small segment of the population that actually consumes dog meat. Nobody thinks it’s a good thing.” 

In fact, a 2022 poll showed that only eight percent of South Korean respondents had eaten dog meat in the past year, and 64 percent opposed the practice completely — down from 27 percent in 2015. The younger generation is especially unlikely to eat dog meat; the most cited reason for dog meat consumption is societal pressure from older family members. 

New legislation in South Korea 

The introduced act will ban the meat trade and the breeding of dogs for slaughter. “We are planning to enact a Special Act to ban dog meat within this year to address this issue as soon as possible,” Yu Eui-dong, policy chief of the People Power Party, said after a meeting at parliament. He expects the bill to win bipartisan support. 

The act allows a three-year grace period to allow businesses to transition out of the trade. Agriculture Minister Chung Hwang-keun told the meeting that the government will provide the maximum amount of support possible to help those in the industry close their businesses. 

“News that the South Korean government is at last poised to ban the dog meat industry is like a dream come true for all of us who have campaigned so hard to end this cruelty,” says JungAh Chae, executive director of Humane Society International/Korea. 

How you can help 

Activists are hopeful that other countries will follow South Korea’s example. In the meantime, during South Korea’s three-year grace period and in countries not yet enacting bans, there are still many ways to help. 

Peter Li, the China Policy Specialist at Humane Society International, told The Wildest in a previous interview that one way to help is to dismantle misinformation and spread the work done by activists. “I want to add that there is a misconception about people wanting to eat dog meat, or that there is a consumer demand for dog meat. This is a false perception. It is a consumption driven by the traders. Dog meat is not a household food,” Li said. 

Asia for Animals Coalition, Duo Duo Project, Korean K9 Rescue, the Soi Dog Foundation, and Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors are a few of the organizations continuing the work to end the dog meat trade. You can support their work by spreading their message, sending donations, and adopting available dogs who were rescued from the meat trade.

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Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.