Gen Z just played a crucial role in South Korea finally banning the dog meat industry

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Jan 9, 2024 at 12:13 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

On Tuesday 9 January 2024, the South Korean parliament passed a law that bans its centuries-old dog meat industry.

Dog meat was historically consumed in many parts of the world, including Europe and North America. However, South Korea is one of the few countries that still allowed its sale and consumption in the 21st century, after dogs evolved from livestock to companion animals in their relationship to human beings.

Campaigners called the parliament’s decision “history in the making” in conversation with The Independent.

The bill was passed with an overwhelming 208 votes in favour of it and only two abstentions, following approval from the bipartisan agriculture committee on Monday.

The ban will take effect after a three-year grace period to phase out the industry. Once it becomes completely effective in 2027, it will criminalise the breeding, slaughter and sale of dogs and dog meat for human consumption. Offences could be punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won, or £17,890.

The ban follows an all-time low in demand for dog meat in East Asia over the past few years, due to criticism from animal rights groups and a lack of interest in the meat among younger generations.

“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,” JungAh Chae, executive director of Humane Society International, told The Independent in a statement.

Nevertheless, the practice still holds cultural significance for older generations, with the ban facing some push-back from dog meat farmers. They critiqued that taking the meat off menus across the country would deprive them of their livelihoods, and they threatened to unleash two million of the captive canines on Seoul if the bill was passed.

Hundreds of thousands of dogs are farmed and killed in South Korea every year. The new legislation recognised this and read: “This law is aimed at contributing to realising the values of animal rights, which pursue respect for life and a harmonious co-existence between humans and animals.”

Nations that still allow the limited consumption of dog meat are China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Switzerland, Vietnam, and India. Switzerland specifically still allows the slaughter of these animals for personal use as well as for the consumption of the meat.

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