These are the urgent priorities of the recently minted government of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol when it comes to improving South Korea's standing in animal rights protection. Yoon is opposed to eating and trading dog meat but recognizes the need for a social consensus to ban the centuries old practice.
Incoming Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Chung Hwang-keun agreed that the dog meat issue has been a contentious one for a long time and that a broad social compromise is needed to resolve it with finality.
“As the number of families with pets has increased and public interest in animal welfare has grown, banning dog meat is the direction in which our society should move forward,” Chung said. “I will make efforts to achieve a grand compromise to end dog meat consumption by fully listening to and coordinating opinions of the industry and animal rights groups," he added.
A poll conducted by Realmeter in November 2021 revealed that there are still many (48.9%) South Koreans who remain opposed to outlawing dog meat even though raising dogs as pets has become very popular, especially during the last two years when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the hardest. Those who support the dog meat ban accounts for 38.6% of the respondents.
There is currently a 21-member task force with government and civilian representatives working to resolve the matter. Their policy recommendations will be submitted to Yoon's new government for implementation.
Meanwhile, it is also within the purview of the agricultural ministry to stop neglectful and or abusive owners from killing their pets by starvation with imprisonment and hefty fines. South Korea's revised Animal Protection Act stipulates jail time of up to three years and penalties worth 30 million won (US$24,000) for pet owners found to have starved their pets to death. However, this particular revision in the law won't take effect until April 27, 2023 so such an act of animal abuse could possibly go unpunished until then, the agricultural ministry said.
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