South Korean task force to study dog meat ban

South Korea is launching a task force to study if dog meat should be banned in the country, The Associated Press reported

“As the number of families with pet animals has risen rapidly and public interest in animal rights and welfare has grown in our country, there have been increasing voices saying that it’s difficult now to see dog meat consumption as just traditional food culture,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, per the AP. 

A statement from seven government offices said the task force is not an admission that dog meat will be banned, saying “public awareness of the basic right [to eat preferred foods] and animal rights issues are tangled in a complicated manner.”

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The task force will study dog farms, restaurants that serve dog meat and public opinion on the matter.

South Korea has 1 million to 1.5 million dogs killed each year for food, according to the AP, down by millions from previous decades.

Animal rights activist complained the statement didn’t go far enough with dog farmers accusing the government of trampling their rights.

“South Korea is the only developed country where people eat dogs, an act that is undermining our international image,” said Lee Won Bok, head of the Korea Association for Animal Protection.

“Even if the K-pop band BTS and the [Korean drama] Squid Game are ranked No. 1 in the world, foreigners are still associating South Korea with dog meat and the Korean War.”

Ju Yeongbong, general secretary of an association of dog farmers, said the move to ban dog meat would impact poor, elderly people, the AP noted. 

Ju wants the government to make dog meat legal for 20 years while demand for the meat keeps declining.