South Korea's President Moon Jae-in raised the need for a formal ban on dog meat consumption in the country on Monday, Sep. 27.
Yonhap News Agency reported that Moon made the remarks as he was being briefed during a weekly policy session with Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, on the government's plan to improve the handling of abandoned pets.
"Hasn't the time come"
According to a spokesperson from the Blue House, Moon allegedly told Kim: "Hasn't the time come to prudently consider prohibiting dog meat consumption?", according to the Korea Herald.
BBC reported that while South Korea’s animal protection law is mainly intended to prevent the cruel slaughter of dogs and cats, it does not ban consumption itself.
It added that it is the first time that Moon, a known dog lover, has raised the prospect of a total ban.
Moon has several canines at the Blue House (the executive residence of the president), including one he rescued after taking office, according to the Guardian.
Dog meat consumption in Korea
According to the BBC, up to one million dogs are still slaughtered for food each year in South Korea.
While consumption has declined as more people embrace animals as pets, dog meat is still eaten mainly by older people and is served in some restaurants and at specific markets, reported CNN.
Dog farms, such as this one on Korea's Jindo Island, typically supply the dog meat for these restaurants and markets.
60+ dogs saved from meat farm that supplied local restaurant https://t.co/oBW4lEZxDk— Mozartmama (@hsiaoching6) September 22, 2021
The dogs are reportedly given little food, often no water, and live outdoors in small cages with little protection from extreme weather conditions.
According to Yonhap News Agency, civic groups in South Korea appeared to remain divided over Moon's latest comments on the controversial issue, amid growing awareness of animal rights.
Jeon Jin-Kyung, who heads the Korea Animal Rights Advocates, said that a "growing number of South Koreans" now consider dog meat consumption as a matter of animal abuse than tradition.
Meanwhile, advocates of dog meat argued that people should still have freedom to choose what they eat.
Cho Hwan-Ro, who represents a local group of dog farmers, told the news agency that dogs raised for consumption are typically "completely distinctive types of breeds", raised in a different environment compared to pets.
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Top image via President Moon Jae-in's Twitter