South Korea unleashes task force on outlawing dog meat


SEOUL: South Korea said it will launch a task force to consider outlawing dog meat consumption after the country’s president offered to look into ending the centuries-old practice.

Restaurants that serve dog meat are dwindling in South Korea as younger people find dog meat a less appetising dining option and pets are growing in popularity.

Recent surveys indicate more people oppose banning dog meat even if many don’t eat it.

In a statement, seven government offices including the Agriculture Ministry said they decided to launch the group comprising officials, civilian experts and people from related organisations to deliver recommendations on possibly outlawing dog meat consumption.

It said authorities will gather information on dog farms, restaurants and other facilities while examining public opinion.

“As the number of families with pet animals has risen rapidly and public interest in animal rights and welfare has grown in our country, there have been increasing voices saying that it’s difficult now to see dog meat consumption as just traditional food culture,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, the country’s No.2 official, said ahead of the statement’s release.

The government says the initiative, the first of its kind, doesn’t necessarily guarantee the banning of dog meat.

The joint statement noted that “public awareness of the basic right (to eat preferred foods) and animal rights issues are tangled in a complicated manner” when it comes to dog meat consumption.

The seemingly vague stance drew quick protests from both dog farmers and animal rights activists.

Farmers say the task force’s launch is nothing but a formality to shut down their farms and dog meat restaurants, while activists argue the government’s announcement lacks resolve to outlaw dog meat consumption.

Ju Yeong-bong, general-secretary of an association of dog farmers, accused the government of “trampling upon” the people’s right to eat what they want and farmers’ right to live. — AP

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