‘This is history in the making I never thought I would see in my lifetime,’ says JungAh Chae, director of Humane Society International/Korea.
On January 9th 2024, South Korea’s National Assembly voted through a ban on the dog meat industry in what animal campaigners at Humane Society International/Korea have called “history in the making.” Up to 1 million dogs a year are factory farmed and killed for human consumption in the country. The ban, which comes into force in six months’ time with a three-year phase out, will make the breeding, slaughter and sale of dogs and dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027, with penalties of up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to 30 million KRW.*
This news follows considerable public and political momentum. With over 6 million pet dogs now living in Korean homes, demand for dog meat is at an all-time low. A 2023 Nielsen Korea opinion polls shows that 86% of South Koreans won’t eat dog meat in the future and 57% support a ban.
Humane Society International/Canada and Friends of HSI have been assisting the HSI/Korea and HSI global rescue teams on shutting down dog meat farms in South Korea since 2015, with over 700 of the more than 2,700 dogs saved by HSI/Korea coming to be cared for at the Canadian care and rehabilitation centre.
Ewa Demianowicz, senior campaign manager for HSI/Canada, stated: “It is with immense joy and relief that the HSI/Canada and Friends of HSI teams are welcoming the news from South Korea has officially banned the dog meat industry. I have witnessed the horror of dog meat farms in South Korea during many rescues and seen the heartbreaking consequences for the dogs in this cruel industry. But I have also had the privilege of helping to rehabilitate hundreds of the dogs we were able to save and take care of at our Canadian care and rehabilitation centre and have seen firsthand how incredibly trusting and loving all of these dogs truly are. Today, we are celebrating for all of the dogs who soon will no longer be forced to endure this suffering.”
South Korea now joins a growing list of countries and territories across Asia that have banned the dog meat trade (with varying degrees of enforcement) including Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Singapore, as well as the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, Siem Reap province in Cambodia, and 45 cities, regencies and provinces in Indonesia.