Farmers take to the streets in Seoul to protest dog meat ban
At least 200 farmers tried to rally at the presidential office with a lorry full of caged dogs but police stopped them before they could release the animals. Failure to include farmers in the discussions over the bill to ban dog breeding for human consumption and poor compensation for going out of business were the main cause of the protest.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – At least 200 South Korean farmers who breed dogs for human consumption took to the streets today in Seoul, at the presidential office. Brandishing placards and chanting slogans, they called on the government to drop the bill to ban the controversial but centuries-old practice.
Dozens of farmers accompanied by a lorry full of caged dogs planned to release the animals at the presidential office but were stopped by police after the latter inspected the vehicle and found the animals covered with blankets,
A few weeks ago, President Yoon Suk-yeol's party introduced a bill to ban the breeding and sale of dogs for human consumption, offering financial compensation to farmers forced to close their business within a three-year grace period.
For the government, the time has come to end the controversial practice of eating dog meat, given a broad consensus among South Koreans as well as in parliament, where the opposition holds a majority.
Dog meat has been part of Korean culture for centuries, especially as the main ingredient in a soup called "bosintang," which is believed to boost virility and have beneficial health effects.
It was traditionally eaten on the hottest days in the year according to the lunar calendar, that is in July and August. It is also included in "gaesoju", a drink used in traditional medicine.
However, in recent years an increasing number of South Koreans, in particular young people, have turned against the practice.
In a country of about 51 million inhabitants, more than six million households own dogs as pets; one of them is President Yoon and his wife Kim Keon-hee, who own six dogs, including a guide dog and a rescue dog.
A 2022 poll by Gallup Korea shows that nearly two thirds of respondents were against eating dog meat, and only 8 per cent said they had eaten it in the past year, down from 27 per cent in 2015.
Ju Yeong-bong, who represents an industry group and led today's rally, slammed politicians who he says have no right to shut down an industry or decide what people can eat.
“We can’t agree with the idea that it is barbaric,” he said, adding that “there are still countries where it’s done.”
For farmers, one of the reasons for the protest is that they have been excluded from the discussions related to the bill as well as the inadequate compensation offered to cover the losses of going out of business.