The Korea Herald

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Dog meat group threatens to release 2 million dogs near presidential office

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Nov. 28, 2023 - 14:14

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A protest against the dog meat trade in South Korea is being held in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Oct. 29. (Yonhap) A protest against the dog meat trade in South Korea is being held in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Oct. 29. (Yonhap)

An umbrella group for those in the dog meat industry in South Korea has vowed to hold a protest Thursday against the government's move to ban dog meat consumption, while allegedly threatening to release 2 million dogs around the presidential office in Yongsan-gu, Seoul.

Daehan Yukgyeon Hyephoi (Dog Meat Federation), a group consisting of dog meat farm operators and dog meat restaurant owners across the country, has recently decided to hold a protest in front of the War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan, just across the street from the office of President Yoon Suk Yeol. The group has warned they will release the dogs in Yongsan and in front of Agriculture Minister Chung Hwang-keun's residence in South Chungcheong Province.

"Each participant will be there with at least one dog (at the protest). Whether or not the dogs will be released will be left to the discretion of each participant," the group told local media.

The Yoon government and ruling party are shooting to propose legislation that would ban dog meat sales by 2027, which is when Yoon's term is set to end. The special bill will outlaw farming dogs for meat, slaughtering them, distributing the meat, restaurants and any businesses related to dog meat. Violators of the proposed law will be subject to criminal punishment.

If the special bill passes in the National Assembly, those in the dog meat industry will be granted a three-year grace period.

The government’s drive to end dog meat consumption, backed feverishly by first lady Kim Keon Hee, has touched off controversy in South Korea, where eating dog is not common but has never been restricted by law.

An August 2022 poll by Gallup Korea on 1,514 adults across the country showed that 85.5 percent of respondents do not eat dog meat, while 80.7 percent said they never plan to. A government-civilian committee launched last year on the legislation of a dog meat ban researched across the country to find that there are 1,156 farms in South Korea breeding dog for meat, and some 1,600 restaurants here consume an annual average of 388,000 dogs.

Over half of South Koreans -- 55.8 percent -- think that eating dog meat should be discontinued, while 28.4 percent thought the practice should continue as-is, the aforementioned Gallup poll showed.

Those in the dog meat industry say that the government plan lacks any specific measures to support them to transition to other livelihoods if the bill is passed. The Dog Meat Federation has urged the government at minimum to postpone the plan for the time being, as the majority of the those involved in the industry are at least in their 60s and near retirement.