The South Korean parliament today, January 9th, unanimously passed a bill which will outlaw the sale and slaughtering of dog meat, as well as the production of it and breeding of dogs for meat by 2027. When the law goes into effect in 2027, it can carry up to 3 years in prison or a 30 million Korean won (22737USD) fine for offenders.
The Korean government has prolonged the time of which the law goes into effect until 2027 in order to allow for dog meat farmers, traders, and restaurant owners who serve dog meat based foods time to transition to alternative methods of livelihood.
The consumption and sale of dog meat has been within Korea for centuries. However, as time goes on, the practice has slowly become less and less common, particularly in modernity with younger generations.
A 2023 poll by Nielsen/Humane Society International Korea found that 86% of South Koreans had “little to no intention of consuming dog meat in the future, regardless of their past consumption”. Of those polled, 57% supported an outright ban on the dog meat industry, and 54% said they had never tried nor intend to try dog meat.
A 2018 investigation estimated 17,000 dog meat farms were in South Korea. By 2023, this number had sharply declined, with only an estimated 1,150 dog meat farms serving the approximately 1,600 dog meat restaurants.
The Humane Society International estimates that up to one million dogs are farmed and killed for consumption within South Korea each year. Comparatively, South Korean’s have an estimated 6 million dogs as pets.
The ban has faced opposition from many of South Korea’s dog meat farmers, who argued that the trade would phase out naturally over time, given that dog meat consumption is primarily carried out by older generations. Some of the farmers say the ban will force them to close up altogether, despite the 3 year grace period to transition to alternative business prospects allowed by the government.
The bill prohibits the raising and slaughtering of dogs for consumption, and the sale/distribution of dog meat, however notably does not outlaw consumption of dog meat.
Offenders who are caught butchering dogs can face up to 3 years in prison, or the 30 million Korean won (22737USD) fine, whereas those caught raising dogs for consumption or selling dog meat can face up to two years in prison, or a fine.
Within the next 6 months, now that the bill has passed, dog meat farmers and restaurant owners are required to provide their local government with a closure plan for their facilities. Potential compensation is to be available for some of those who will be drastically financially effected by the ban.
The bill passed 208-0.