Source: Cheong Wa Dae Handout/EPA/TheGuardian

South Korea’s president Moon suggests ban on eating dog meat

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a known dog-lover, has said the time may have come to ban the traditional practice that is becoming an international embarrassment and increasingly at odds with the country’s growing number of pet owners.

South Korea’s President Suggests Banning Dog Meat

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Monday there might be a need to prohibit dog meat consumption amid debate over the controversial practice and growing awareness of animal rights, reported Reuters from Seoul that day.

Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, with puppies at the the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea. Source: Cheong Wa Dae Handout/EPA/TheGuardian

South Korean President Moon suggests formal ban on consumption of dog meat

In Seoul on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested the government consider imposing a formal ban on dog meat consumption in the country.

"Hasn’t the time come to prudently consider prohibiting dog meat consumption?" Moon asked Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum during their weekly policy consultation session, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.

The President made the remarks while being briefed by the Prime Minister on the government’s plan to improve the system to take care of abandoned pets, Yonhap News Agency quoted Park as saying.

The spokesperson provided no further details on Moon’s remarks in a brief press statement. A growing number of South Koreans live with dogs at home, but there are dog farms still in operation, where some dog breeds are raised for food.

Moon is known to love his pet dogs, living with several of them at the presidential compound.

South Korea has the Animal Protection Law intended mainly to prevent the cruel slaughter of dogs and cats but not dog consumption itself. 


Nara Kim/HSI
Dogs on South Korea’s meat farms typically languish in bare wire cages for their whole lives. Nara Kim/HSI Source: Nara Kim/

Dog meat sellers insist on the right to their occupation

It was the first time that Moon raised a ban, which is likely to give fresh momentum to debate over whether to curtail the practice.

To boost their popularity, several presidential hopefuls have pledged to ban dog meat in recent weeks, especially as dogs have become popular as pets and advocacy groups have urged South Korea to close down restaurants and markets selling dog meat.

A poll commissioned by animal welfare group Aware released this month said 78% of respondents believed the production and sale of dog and cat meat should be prohibited and 49% supported a consumption ban.

But, another survey by polling firm Realmeter found people were divided over whether the government should ban eating dog meat, though 59% supported legal restrictions on dog slaughter for human consumption.

Dog meat sellers have insisted on the right to their occupation, saying their livelihoods are at risk.

Source: Reuters

Nara Kim/HSI
One dog enjoys a snout-rub just before his rescue from his cage—likely the only world he’s known until now. Nara Kim/HSI Source: Nara Kim/

How one dogmeat farmer gave up the business forever

Most South Koreans (84%) do not consume dog meat, and more and more people in the country see dogs only as companion animals. An estimated 6.38 million South Korean households lived with companion animals in 2020, equating to 28% of households, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture. 

Because of this shift in perception, and a recent announcement by Korea’s Ministry of Justice concerning its intention to amend Article 82 of the Civil Law to grant animals legal status, stating that “animals are not objects,” 

Humane Society International (HSI) are confident that the end is in sight for this industry, and hope that legislation will soon follow this change in public behavior.

HSI/Korea has closed 17 other dog meat farms in South Korea and is campaigning for legislation in the country to end the dog meat industry. HSI team has also promoted alternatives to dog meat, creating vegan versions of a dog meat soup that is consumed by some South Koreans during the summer season. 

HSI recently heard of a dog farmer who also ran a local restaurant where the dogs he’d raised were on the menu (see accompanying photographs by Nara Kim of Humane Society International). The farmer had run into problems with the local authorities. 

Thankfully, when offered the chance to seek an alternative lifestyle to raising dogs for meat, the farmer agreed. He signed a contract with HSI’s partner, the Korean animal protection group LIFE, committing to give up dog farming forever and removing dog meat from his restaurant’s menu. 

With the agreement reached and the contract signed, LIFE and HSI/Korea could begin the emotional and inspiring work of saving these dogs. The dogs will be quarantined for at least 30 days before being transported to the U.S. and Canada to seek loving homes. For the full story, click here.


Nara Kim/HSI
Nara Kim, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Korea, helps a puppy out of his dog meat farm cage forever. Nara Kim/HSI Source: Nara Kim/


The American Cancer Society‘s updated diet and physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention puts more emphasis on reducing the consumption of processed and red meat and alcohol.

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