South Korean Parliamentary Committee Advances Bill to Ban Dog Meat

SEOUL: A significant legislative move took place in South Korea, as the parliamentary legislation and judiciary committee passed a bill on Monday aimed at banning the butchering, distribution, and consumption of dog meat. This decision marks a pivotal shift in addressing a traditional practice that has increasingly become controversial in the country.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the act of raising or slaughtering dogs for meat consumption, as well as distributing or selling dog meat, will be prohibited. Violations of these prohibitions could result in severe penalties, including a maximum prison term of three years or a fine of up to 30 million won (approximately US$22,768) for those found butchering dogs. Those involved in raising dogs for meat or distributing them may face a maximum term of two years or a fine of up to 20 million won. The legislation proposes a three-year grace period before these penalties are enforced.

The bill also mandates that dog meat farms, distributors, and restaurants must register their businesses with regional governments. Additionally, it outlines support measures from state or regional governments to assist these businesses in shutting down. Government statistics from last year indicate that there are about 1,150 dog meat farms across South Korea.

This legislative development is expected to lead to a vote at a plenary session of the National Assembly on Tuesday. The decision to draft and pass this special legislation follows the government and the ruling People Power Party's agreement in November to put an end to dog meat consumption. This practice has seen a dramatic decline in recent decades, partly due to perceptions of it being an international embarrassment.

Despite the declining popularity of dog meat, especially among younger generations, the tradition still has its advocates. Some argue for the freedom of choice in dietary matters. Dog meat stew, known as "boshintang" in Korean, though less favored by the youth, is still considered a delicacy by some older South Koreans, particularly during the summer months.

This legislative step was influenced by public sentiment, as evidenced by a demonstration calling for a ban on dog meat consumption, captured in a file photo from Oct. 29, 2023, outside the National Assembly in western Seoul.

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