In a historic move, South Korea’s National Assembly has voted to ban the dog meat industry, marking a historic milestone for animal welfare advocates.

Humane Society International/Korea hailed this decision as a pivotal moment, considering that up to 1 million dogs are factory farmed and slaughtered annually for human consumption in the country. The ban, effective in six months with a three-year phase-out, will render the breeding, slaughter, and sale of dogs and dog meat for human consumption illegal from 2027, imposing penalties of imprisonment up to three years or fines up to 30 million KRW.

This landmark decision reflects a shift in public and political sentiment. With over 6 million pet dogs in Korean households, the demand for dog meat has significantly declined. A 2023 Nielsen Korea poll revealed that 86 percent of South Koreans plan to abstain from dog meat consumption in the future, with 57 percent supporting the ban.

The legislation includes a penalty of up to two years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 20 million KRW for the breeding and sale of dogs for consumption, and up to three years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 30 million KRW for the slaughter of dogs for human consumption.

‘History in the Making’

JungAh Chae, executive director of HSI/Korea, lauded the decision, saying, “This is history in the making. I never thought I would see in my lifetime a ban on the cruel dog meat industry in South Korea but this historic win for animals is testament to the passion and determination of our animal protection movement.”

The transition will offer support to dog farmers, slaughterers, and restaurant owners through compensation and government-assisted programs to transition or cease these businesses, akin to the Models for Change initiative by HSI/Korea, which has successfully aided 18 dog farmers in transitioning to alternative livelihoods.

HSI/Korea urges the government to collaborate with animal welfare groups during the phase-out period to coordinate the rescue and rehoming of as many dogs as possible from these facilities.

Kitty Block and Jeff Flocken, CEO and president of HSI globally, remarked, “This is a truly momentous day for our campaign to end the horrors of the dog meat industry in South Korea, and one we have been hoping to see for a very long time.”