The South Korean government on Thursday said it will launch a task force to outlaw dog meat consumption ending the centuries-old practice.
The country's president Moon Jae-in in September had raised the possibility of banning the consumption of dog meat.
Seven government offices, including the agriculture ministry, said, in a statement that they have decided to launch the group.
"Public awareness of their basic rights and animal rights issues are tangled in a complicated manner,” in relation to dog meat consumption, the statement read. However, it added, “people have negative views both about eating dogs and legally banning it".
The task force will gather information on dog farms, restaurants and other facilities while examining public opinion.
Consumption of dog meat has been dwindling in the country as the younger generation find it less appetizing amid growing popularity to keep the animal as a pet.
A poll conducted by Nielsen for Humane Society International in 2020 found that 84 per cent of South Koreans have never consumed dog meat and 59 per cent of citizens support banning consumption.
The government's initiative has drawn the ire of both dog farmers and animal rights activists as the move doesn't confirm a ban on consumption.
Lee Won Bok, head of the Korea Association for Animal Protection, was disappointed in the government’s announcement as it did not include any concrete plans to impose a ban.
“We have deep doubt about whether the government has a resolve to put an end to dog meat consumption,” Lee told Associated Press.
However, dog farmers suggest that the ban would affect thousands of poor farmers.
About 1 to 1.5 million dogs are culled each year for consumption in the country and farmers raise approximately 2 million dogs for their meet, Ju Yeongbong, general secretary of an association of dog farmers said.
Ju accused the government of “trampling upon” the people’s right to eat and farmers’ right to live.