Victory! South Korea Officially Bans The Dog Meat Trade With Historic Vote

Photos by: HSI Korea

South Korea’s National Assembly has officially voted to ban the dog meat trade in what animal campaigners at Humane Society International/Korea have called “history in the making.”

Up to one million dogs per year are factory farmed and killed for human consumption in the country. The ban, which comes into force in six months time with a three-year phase out, will make the breeding, slaughter, and sale of dogs and dog meat for human consumption illegal beginning in 2027, with penalties of up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to 30 million KRW.

This news follows considerable public and political momentum. There are over 6 million pet dogs now living in Korean homes, and demand for dog meat is at an all-time low. A 2023 Nielsen Korea opinion poll shows that 86% of South Koreans won’t eat dog meat in the future and 57% support a ban.

“This is history in the making. I never thought I would see in my lifetime a ban on the cruel dog meat industry in South Korea. This historic win for animals is a testament to the passion and determination of our animal protection movement,” said JungAh Chae, executive director of HSI/Korea, which has campaigned tirelessly for a ban.

“We reached a tipping point where most Korean citizens reject eating dogs and want to see this suffering consigned to the history books, and today, our policymakers have acted decisively to make that a reality,” continued Chae. “While my heart breaks for all the millions of dogs for whom this change has come too late, I am overjoyed that South Korea can now close this miserable chapter in our history and embrace a dog-friendly future.”

Dog farmers, slaughterers, and restaurant owners will be eligible to apply for compensation, and after review, government support will be offered to transition or close those businesses, similar to the Models for Change program launched by HSI/Korea. Since 2015, HSI has helped 18 dog farmers across South Korea switch to growing crops, such as chili plants and parsley, or water delivery and other livelihoods.

HSI/Korea urges the government to use the three-year phase out period to work with animal groups, including HSI/Korea to rescue as many dogs as possible in a state-sponsored, coordinated effort.

“This is a truly momentous day for our campaign to end the horrors of the dog meat industry in South Korea, and one we have been hoping to see for a very long time,” said Kitty Block and Jeff Flocken, CEO and president of HSI globally. “Having been to dog meat farms, we know only too well the suffering and deprivation these desperate animals endure in the name of an industry for whom history has now thankfully called time. This ban signals the end of dog meat farming and sales in South Korea, and we stand ready to contribute our expertise until every cage is empty.”

South Korea now joins a growing list of countries and territories across Asia that have banned the dog meat trade, (with varying degrees of enforcement), including Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Thailand, and Singapore, as well as the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, Siem Reap province in Cambodia and 45 cities, regencies, and provinces in Indonesia.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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