New concept draft of Korean animal protection law eliminates potential exemptions for “meat” dogs & cats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2004:

SEOUL–More than a year of acrimony over
animal definitions in a 2003 draft update of the
1991 South Korean animal protection law appeared
to be resolved on October 5, 2004 when the
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry presented a
new draft of recommendations for legislation
called Comprehensive Measures for Animal
Protection.
Comprehensive Measures appears to
eliminate loopholes in the 2003 draft update that
might have exempted dogs and cats raised for meat
from coverage.

Comprehensive Measures would not ban
eating dogs and cats, or raising and selling
them for consumption, Animal Freedom Korea
president Heekyung Jo acknowledged, but it would
protect all dogs and cats within the same
regulatory framework.
“One crucial and encouraging difference,”
between Comprehensive Measures and the 2003 draft
legislation, explained International Aid for
Korean Animals founder Kyenan Kum, “is that in
Comprehensive Measures for Animal Protection
there is no mention of the definition of ‘pet’
animals, which could have provided legal
justification for distinguishing between ‘pet’
dogs and cats and ‘food’ dogs and cats. In the
previous draft, the introduction of the
definition of ‘pet’ animals formed one of the six
major sections of the amendment.
“We are very hopeful,” Kum continued,
“that the Ministry of Agriculture has decided not
to try to protect the interests of dog and cat
eaters through the animal protection law. Our
optimism is strengthened because Comprehensive
Measures would make it a duty for anyone who
breeds or sells dogs or cats to register them,
not just those who breed and sell them as
companions.
“Comprehensive Measures uses the term
‘companion animals’ instead of ‘pet animals,’
requires local governments to provide facilities
to protect stray animals, and defines as animal
abuse dogfights, dog racing, and killing stray
animals for food,” Kum added.
Further, Kum said, Comprehensive
Measures prohibits giving away live animals as
prizes in competitions.
Kyenan Kum is sister of Korean Animal
Protection Society founder Sunnan Kum. The Kum
sisters were at odds through much of 2003 and
most of 2004 with the leaders of at least five
much younger pro-animal organizations in Korea,
who were more willing to accept at face value the
claims of the Ministry of Agriculture and
Forestry that the definitions in the previous
draft bill were not a covert attempt to legalize
dog and cat eating.
The Kum sisters took a more conservative
view of the previous draft in recollection that
the 1991 law was globally acclaimed as a great
victory over the small but politically
influential faction of dog and cat eaters. After
it passed, the major international animal
advocacy groups withdrew from the issue.
Presumably the 1991 law was to halt
practices including torture-killing dogs to
suffuse their flesh with adrenalin, so as to
have a stimulant effect on older men, and
boiling cats alive to make a tonic for older
women.
In actuality no one was ever charged with
an offense under the law. As Koreans became
more affluent, dog and cat consumption actually
increased during the next decade. The Kum
sisters continued to campaign against it almost
alone until ANIMAL PEOPLE began giving them
prominent coverage in July/August 1999.
Barely 6% of Koreans consume dogs or
cats, but consumption is more common among the
affluent elder elite who dominate politics,
industry, finance, and the media.
Comprehensive Measures for Animal
Protection is to be formally drafted as
legislation during October 2004, introduced into
the South Korean parliament in March 2005, and
in effect in 2006, if all goes according to
plan, Kyenan Kum said.
“It’s still early to celebrate,”
cautioned Heekyung Jo. “If the bill passes,” Jo
added, “the subordinate laws such as enforcement
ordinances or regulations will be major areas of
our concern.”

Nationalism

Bitterness lingers between KAPS/IAKA
supporters and backers of the other South Korean
pro-animal organizations, not only because of
differences over the previous draft amendments
but also because of a fundamental disagreement
over tactics.
While Sunnan Kum has devoted much of her
life to encouraging the formation and growth of
indigenous South Korean pro-animal groups, KAPS
and IAKA from inception have relied heavily on
foreign support.
Based in Oakland, California, Kyenan
Kum has with Sunnan Kum’s endorsement promoted
global boycotts of Korea that are perceived
within Korea as grossly unfair.
The boycott approach has enabled the dog
and cat meat industry to portray their opponents
as unpatriotic, and to assert that the whole
campaign is covertly funded by foreign
competitors for the South Korean share of the
global market in fields such as car-making,
consumer electronics, and biotechnology.
The younger South Korean pro-animal
organizations rely almost entirely on indigenous
support, and are largely nationalist in
character.
At least one younger group, Voice 4
Animals, founded by Changkil Park, sees the
recent rapid expansion of vivisection in South
Korea as a more urgent activist priority. During
the past decade the South Korean biotech industry
has emerged from relative obscurity to compete
for global leadership.
The growth is stoked by government
investment, including a $51 million, 10-year
commitment by the Ministry of Agriculture and
Forestry announced on June 1 to fund the
development of genetically modified pigs whose
organs can be transplanted into humans.
South Korea is starting 15 years behind
other contenders in the race to be first on the
market with reliable transplantable pig organs,
but is gambling that starting later will result
in working smarter.
A point of agreement among all the Korean
organizations is that regardless of priorities,
they want to see dog and cat eating end as
rapidly as possible, before the reunification of
South and North Korea that many Koreans believe
is inevitable.
Though relatively few North Koreans can
afford dog meat at present, dog-eating still has
high status in the North, and the rise in
affluence that would follow reunification could
produce a renewed boom in dog slaughter, if
legislation to discourage it is not firmly in
place.

Turning point

A turning point in the 25-year battle for
South Korean public opinion may have come on June
27, when SBS television news reporter Cheonhong
Kim extensively exposed the sale of abandoned and
stolen pets at dog meat markets. The exposé
affirmed most of the activist criticisms of the
dog meat industry.
Afterward, the SBS interactive message
board recorded strong public revulsion at the
scenes shown in the broadcast, and demonstrated
that younger and better-educated Koreans no
longer see “pet” dogs and “meat” dogs as having
different moral stature.
Interactive online technology within a
matter of hours appeared to destroy the cultural
defense of dog-eating long advanced in defense of
the status quo.
The Yonhap news agency reported in
mid-September that the owner of a car rental firm
had initiated a lawsuit against three male
employees, all over age 50, who allegedly
stole and ate his Jindo pet dog. The police were
reportedly also investigating the case, which
may be the first to bring dog-eaters into a South
Korean court.

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