South Korean capital defines dogs as “livestock”
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2008:
SEOUL–Acknowledging the existence of at least 528 Seoul
restaurants that sell dog meat, plus 70 more that may offer dog meat
as a summer special, Seoul city health officials on April 12, 2008
announced that they would begin inspecting dog carcasses.
“The city will take samples of dog meat from about 530
restaurants and examine them to see if they contain harmful
substances such as heavy metals, antibiotics, and bacteria,” wrote
Korea Times staff reporter Kim Tae-jong.
The unilateral city inspection initiative follows years of
efforts by the dog meat industry to have dogs recognized as a “meat”
animal, on the pretext that traffic in species not so recognized
cannot be regulated under the existing hygiene laws.
Selling dogs’ meat for human consumption has been technically
illegal since 1983, but the law has never been enforced, and
provides no means for it to be enforced.
“The city also plans to propose that the central government
categorize dogs as livestock,” Kim Tae-jong added, recalling that a
similar proposal was introduced into the South Korean parliament in
2001, but was scrapped due to humane opposition. The South Korean
ministry of agriculture and forestry then tried to classify dogs as
livestock by administrative decree, in 2003, but was also rebuffed.
Waiting four years before trying again, the ministry of
agriculture and forestry in July 2007 proposed a new animal
protection law that contained a passage recognized by Korea Animal
Protection Society founder Sunnan Kum as a back door attempt to
legalize dog meat. Other Korean animal welfare organizations
disagreed and promoted the law as written. It took effect on January
“In only two months,” said Sunnan Kum, “Seoul mayor Oh Se
Hun announced the introduction of the protocol for lawfully killing
and eating dogs. This clearly shows that the revision of animal
protection law was prepared only to show foreigners, rather than for
“If you start separating dogs for consumption from pet dogs,
you will open a floodgate,” agreed Korea Kennel Federation
representative Chung Tae-gyun. “We think dogs should not be consumed
Oh Se Hun issued the new Seoul Dog Meat Hygiene Management
Policy on March 24. KAPS and Coexistence of Animal Rights in Korea
demonstrated against the new policy for the next two days in front of
the Seoul city hall, said Pei F. Su of ACTAsia For Animals.
“For years Korean groups have worked on public education
campaigns to promote the concept that dogs are not food,” Pei F. Su
posted to the Asian Animal Protection Network newsgroup. “They are
asking for support from other Asian communities, with the hope
that countries that have already banned the consumption of dog and
cat meat, including Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines, could
help to persuade the Korean government not to legalize this animal
The Taiwanese animal protection group EAST supported KAPS and
CARK by protesting in Taipei on April 8, 2008, Pei F. Su said.
“Last year, the Research Institute of Public Health and
Environment conducted a study and it discovered germs,” Seoul food
safety regulator Oh Jae-ho told JoongAng Daily reporter Brian Lee.
“That is why we think that putting dog meat into the flow of
livestock monitoring is needed. We have been told that last year
during summer five to six million [dog meat] dishes were sold. Since
many people eat dog meat, we think it is better to bring the issue
into the limelight for the sake of public health.”
South Korean restaurant meat buyers currently pay about $4.00
per pound for dog carcasses, three times the wholesale price of
pork, but just a seventh the wholesale price of beef. Up to 100
dishes are prepared from each dog carcass. If all of South Korea
eats dogs at the Seoul consumption rate, and 50 dishes are made from
each dog carcass on average, about one to 1.2 million dogs per year
are eaten–about half the number estimated by the ministry of
agriculture and forestry a decade ago, and a third of the estimated
The Korea Kennel Federation estimates that about 3.5 million
to 5 million dogs are kept as pets in South Korea.
While the dog meat industry is still big, dog meat dealers
Jo Chang-Geun Ko Se-Hoon in July 2007 abandoned an attempt to sell
dog meat online, they told Agence France Presse, due public
opposition. Their business was based in Seongnam, south of Seoul.