South Korea starts to close dog meat farms as attitudes change

Kate Ng
·3-min read
Nearly 200 dogs were rescued by animal welfare charity Humane Society International (HSI) and taken to the US from a dog meat farm in South Korea (Humane Society International/Facebook)
Nearly 200 dogs were rescued by animal welfare charity Humane Society International (HSI) and taken to the US from a dog meat farm in South Korea (Humane Society International/Facebook)

A charity has closed its 17th dog meat farm in South Korea as more people in the country support a ban on dog meat consumption.

Washington-based animal rights group, Humane Society International, announced it closed a farm that had nearly 200 dogs, which were bred and raised for slaughter in the dog meat trade.

The dogs, mainly Korean jinxes and mastiffs, were rescued and taken to the US to be adopted.

The farm was operated by a farmer named Kim Il-hwan, who had been in the industry for around 40 years. In exchange for closing the farm, he was given financial compensation and career assistance from HSI.

Mr Kim said the industry was shrinking and business had been difficult for the past decade.

“There is no future in dog meat at all, it’s already dying and will fall apart completely,” he said of the industry. “And dog farming is physically hard and I’m getting old, so I want to get out. 40 years ago it was different, but now it’s over for dog farming.”

An opinion poll commissioned by HSI suggests that Mr Kim is right - 84 per cent of those polled said they do not or will not eat dog and almost 60 per cent supported a legislative ban on the trade.

The poll, conducted by Neilsen, also found 57 per cent of South Koreans believe dog meat consumption reflects poorly on the country, an increase from 37 per cent in 2017.

Nara Kim, HSI’s dog meat campaigner in South Korea, said: “More people in South Korea are interested in animal welfare and the environment, and so when they see footage of our dog farm closures on the news showing the animals suffering and filthy conditions, or read about dog meat exposés by other Korean groups, they are really shocked and upset.

“The inevitable drop in sales is leading more dog farmers to help them start a new life. But we hope in time the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good.”

The dogs rescued from this farm will arrive in the US on Friday and will be housed in temporary shelters in Washington DC and Montreal, Canada.

According to Kitty Block, CEO of HSI, the dogs will then go to animal shelter partners in Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania after several weeks to be adopted out to the public.

“This is the 17th dog meat farm that HSI has helped close, part of a campaign to show dog meat farmers, the South Korean government and the South Korean people that there is a better path forward for us all, humans and animals, a path that celebrates the human-animal bond in the most special of ways,” she added.

Dog meat has long been a part of South Korean cuisine and around one million dogs are believed to be eaten every year. However, the popularity of the meat has declined and consuming dog meat has become taboo among the younger generation.

In 2018, a city court in Bucheon ruled the killing of dogs for meat is illegal. The ruling was hailed by activists who said it could pave the way for outlawing dog meat consumption entirely.

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