South Korea Implements Ban on Dog Meat Slaughter and Sale by 2027, Ending Centuries-Old Tradition

SEOUL (AP) — South Korea has passed a new law aiming to phase out the slaughter and sale of dogs for meat by 2027. The centuries-old practice of eating dog meat will finally come to an end under this legislation, which has been introduced to align with changing societal attitudes towards the consumption of dogs. In recent decades, the popularity of dog meat has declined significantly, particularly among young people who actively avoid it.

The law makes it illegal to raise or slaughter dogs for consumption, as well as to distribute or sell dog meat. Offenders could face prison sentences, with those responsible for butchering dogs potentially facing up to three years in prison, and those raising or selling dog meat facing a maximum of two years. However, the consumption of dog meat itself remains legal.

The government plans to implement the law in three years’ time, allowing farmers and restaurant owners to transition into alternative forms of employment. They will be required to submit a plan to their local authorities outlining how they intend to phase out their businesses. The government has promised its full support to these individuals, though the details of compensation are yet to be worked out.

As of 2023, government statistics indicated that South Korea had around 1,600 dog meat restaurants and 1,150 dog farms. While dog meat stew, known as “boshintang,” is considered a delicacy by some older South Koreans, it has lost favor among the younger generation. According to a Gallup poll, only 8% of people tried dog meat in the past year, down from 27% in 2015. Furthermore, less than a fifth of respondents supported the consumption of dog meat.

The ban on dog meat has ignited a generational divide among South Koreans. Elderly individuals who have long enjoyed the traditional food express disappointment and argue that bans should extend to other meats, like beef. In contrast, younger people view the ban as necessary for promoting animal rights, considering dogs as part of their families rather than food.

This is not the first time the government has attempted to ban dog meat, with previous administrations since the 1980s making promises that were never fulfilled. However, the current President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee, both passionate animal lovers, own six dogs and have called for an end to the practice. Animal rights groups have applauded the recent legislation, hailing it as a significant milestone in South Korea’s history.

Despite the ban, some dog farmers have expressed despair, contending that the industry would have naturally diminished within the next decade given its declining popularity. They argue that the decision infringes upon personal freedom to choose what one consumes. However, the majority of South Koreans support the end of dog meat consumption, aligning the country with international trends.

In conclusion, South Korea has taken a landmark step in passing a law to end the slaughter and sale of dogs for meat by 2027. This move follows a decline in the consumption of dog meat, particularly among younger generations who view dogs as companions rather than food. While the ban has stirred mixed reactions, the government is committed to supporting farmers and restaurateurs during the transition phase. The implications of this legislation extend beyond animal welfare, highlighting the evolving cultural values and attitudes of South Korean society.