SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has passed a law that aims to prohibit the sale and slaughter of dogs for their meat by 2027. The move comes in response to changing attitudes among the younger generation, who increasingly view dogs as family pets rather than a source of food. Dog meat stew, known as “boshintang,” has long been considered a delicacy for older generations, but its popularity has been waning.
According to estimates, South Korea currently has approximately 1,600 dog meat restaurants and 1,150 dog farms. The new law will ban the raising, butchering, distribution, and sale of dogs for their meat. Those found violating these regulations could face up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of 30 million won ($23,000). Additionally, individuals involved in the sale or breeding of dogs for meat may be sentenced to two years behind bars.
It is important to note that the consumption of dog meat itself will not become illegal. The law is set to go into effect in 2027 to allow the dog meat industry to phase out and provide affected businesses with the opportunity to find alternative employment. The South Korean government has expressed its intention to support those impacted, although specific details of this assistance have yet to be disclosed.
This shift in legislation reflects the changing preferences of the younger generation in South Korea. Gallup Korea conducted a survey revealing that the percentage of people who had consumed dog meat in the past year dropped from 27% in 2015 to 8% in 2022, indicating a significant change in attitude.
While the new law has been welcomed by animal welfare campaigners, not everyone is happy about the decision. Critics argue that dog meat has been part of the South Korean culinary tradition for centuries and should not be banned. For some, it has long been seen as a cost-effective source of protein, especially during the summer months when it is believed to help combat the heat.
Nevertheless, advocates for animal rights are celebrating this milestone. To them, it signifies a victory in their long-standing campaign to end the dog meat industry’s cruelty. JungAh Chae, the executive director of Humane Society International/Korea, called it “history in the making” and attributed the ban to the passion and determination of animal protection advocates.
South Korea’s proposed ban on the sale and slaughter of dogs for their meat by 2027 reflects a changing cultural landscape, where dogs are increasingly regarded as companions rather than food sources. The law will eliminate the raising, butchering, distribution, and sale of dogs for their meat. Violators may face imprisonment or hefty fines. Although the consumption of dog meat itself will remain legal, the government plans to support affected businesses in transitioning to alternative industries. While some traditionalists mourn the loss of a long-standing culinary tradition, animal welfare organizations celebrate this significant milestone in their fight against the cruelty endured by dogs in the meat industry.