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1 Dec, 2023 22:17

Farmers protest dog-eating ban plan (VIDEOS)

South Korean demonstrators reportedly planned to release dogs in front of the presidential office in Seoul
Farmers protest dog-eating ban plan (VIDEOS)

Hundreds of South Korean dog meat farmers took to the streets of Seoul to protest a proposed ban on their livelihood on Thursday, leading to clashes with police and three arrests, organizers told media on Friday.

Dozens of the farmers had allegedly brought dogs in cages with the intention of releasing them in front of the presidential office. Police, spotting the cages under blankets in protesters’ trucks, set up barricades to prevent them from unleashing their cargo on an unsuspecting public.

Videos posted to social media show farmers clad in matching red vests, chanting with raised fists, singing, and making speeches against the dog meat ban. Other clips show them shouting at yellow-jacketed police and trying to rush a crowd barricade. 

The ban, a ‘pet’ cause of First Lady Kim Keon Hee, would fully phase out the industry by 2027. It purports to compensate meat farmers for the loss of their business and would supply them with vocational training to transition to work in another industry.

Ju Yeongbong, a rally organizer and head of a dog meat farmers’ trade group, told Reuters the government had completely excluded them from negotiations on the bill. Farmers want to be directly compensated for relinquishing their animals and more time to wind down their operations, he explained, arguing that the meager compensation offered was completely inadequate for the loss of their livelihoods and the offer of training was irrelevant.

Most dog meat industry workers are in their 60s and 70s, which means they are seeking retirement, not new occupations,” Ju explained. “Since few young Koreans eat dog meat, the practice will fade away in the next 15 to 20 years anyhow.

Dismissing the notion that eating dogs is barbaric, he pointed out that “all countries that have the tradition of animal husbandry have at some point eaten dogs and there are still countries where it is done.

Instead, he said, “it is a violent act of barbarism to deprive individuals of their right to eat.

Dog meat has declined in popularity in South Korea, especially among younger people. A Gallup poll conducted in 2022 revealed just 8% of respondents had eaten it within the previous year, compared to 27% who said the same in 2015, and fully 64% said they were against the practice.

However, there are still 1,150 farms where dogs are bred for food, 34 slaughterhouses, 219 meat distribution companies, and 1,600 restaurants that serve dog meat, according to government data cited by Reuters. 

In July, Ju’s organization set up tables to publicly cook and eat dog meat and serve it to passersby to protest animal rights activists’ efforts to ban canine consumption.