Animal rights campaigners have welcomed a suggestion by South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in that he will consider banning dog meat. The timing of the announcements suggests the dog meat trade could become an election issue.
On Monday, Jae-in said he might prohibit dog meat consumption. The news follows years of campaigning by a range of animal rights groups against the practice of raising and killing dogs for meat.
“As a Korean who has visited many dog meat farms and seen the appalling animal suffering first hand,” Nara Kim, Korea’s dog meat campaigner at Humane Society International (HSI), said in a press release.
Kim said she hoped the announcement by Moon “signals the beginning of the end for the brutal dog meat industry. These dogs live a dreadful existence, locked in barren wire cages their whole lives, most in a pitiful state of malnutrition, skin disease and fear, only to be painfully electrocuted often in front of each other.”
Dog meat is now less common in South Korea, but it is still eaten by older people and served in some restaurants. It can also be found in certain markets. “It’s like a living nightmare for them [dogs], all to produce a meat that most Koreans don’t want to eat,” Kim said.
Banning dog meat, Kim added, would help both the dogs and dog farmers “who want to get out of this dead-end trade.” She said that HSI is currently helping some dog meat farmers transition to more humane livelihoods.
The South Korean president made his remark about a possible ban following a briefing from his prime minister, Kim Boo-kyum, about efforts to improve the treatment of abandoned animals and a mandatory registration system for dogs.
“After the briefing, he [Moon] said the time has come to carefully consider imposing a dog meat ban,” Moon’s spokeswoman, Park Kyung-mee, said in a statement.
The comment from Moon comes in the run-up to a general election early next year, suggesting that dog meat could become an election issue.
To boost their popularity, several presidential candidates have pledged to ban dog meat in recent weeks.
Dogs have become popular as pets, and animal advocacy groups have urged South Korea to close down restaurants and markets selling dog meat.
Lee Jae-myung, governor of the province of Gyeonggi and a leading presidential contender from Moon’s party, has already promised to push for a dog meat ban, Reuter’s said.