In South Korea, Eating Dogs Is Legal. They Even Have Dog Farms
South Korea leapfrogged into the 21st century as one of the most successful Asian tigers to emerge after Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. It embraced modernity with such speed and has cemented itself as a global tech and heavy industries powerhouse. And yet, it has failed to shake off a tradition that has been frowned upon by many countries: eating dogs.
In South Korea, it is still legal to eat dogs, a practice that has been outlawed in the Philippines for the past two decades.
The majority of South don’t routinely eat dog meat—but the “right” for others to do so is still strongly felt, according to Humane Society International.
“Dog meat is mostly eaten by older, male citizens who have the misguided belief that it is beneficial for health when consumed either as a soup called boshintang—which is believed by some to invigorate the blood and reduce lethargy—or as a tonic (gaesoju), which is sold in traditional medicine shops,” writes the Humane Society International.
“Dog meat is particularly popular during the summer months, especially during ‘Boknal’—the three hottest days between July and August when 70 to 80 percent of the dog meat is consumed.”
That could soon change.
South Korea’s leader, President Moon Jae-in, has suggested banning the dog meat trade in his country.
“Hasn’t the time come to prudently consider prohibiting dog meat consumption?” Moon said in a meeting on September 27.
In 2018, the Korea Times reported that dog consumption in Seoul has dropped by 40 percent. “Fewer people in Seoul are eating dog, as nearly 40 percent of the restaurants selling dog meat have closed over the last 10 years,” it reported.
The Guardian reports that around one million dogs are slaughtered in South Korea every year, but Koreans are now becoming more protective of the canine species.
In a 2020 poll conducted by Nielsen, it was found that there is a growing support in South Korea for banning the consumption of dog meat. Among the respondents, 83.8 percent said they haven’t consumed dog meat or they are not willing to consume it in the future.
The perception that dog meat culture is not associated with modern Korean culture has significantly increased from 29.2 percent in 2017 to 47.7 percent in 2020.
Koreans also perceived that dog meat consumption reflects poorly on Korea, according to 57 percent of respondents. In 2017, only 36 percent agreed to this statement.
Although there is an animal protection law in South Korea, it only outlaws the cruel slaughter of dogs, but not their consumption. Nevertheless, police have used this law to enforce crackdowns on dog farms and restaurants whenever there are international events happening in South Korea, according to the Guardian.