Canine meat farmers push again in opposition to rising strikes to outlaw their trade in South Korea

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea (AP) — The canine bark and stare as Kim Jong-kil approaches the rusty cages housing the massive, short-haired animals he sells for his or her meat. Kim opens a door and pets one canine’s neck and chest.

Kim says he’s pleased with the canine meat farm that has supported his household for 27 years, however is upset over rising makes an attempt by politicians and activists to outlaw the enterprise, which he’s turning over to his youngsters.

“It’s extra than simply feeling dangerous. I completely oppose these strikes, and we’ll mobilize all our means to withstand it,” Kim, 57, stated in an interview at his farm in Pyeongtaek metropolis, simply south of Seoul.

Canine meat consumption is a centuries-old apply on the Korean Peninsula and has lengthy been considered as a supply of stamina on sizzling summer season days. It’s neither explicitly banned nor legalized in South Korea, however increasingly individuals need it prohibited. There’s growing public consciousness of animal rights and worries about South Korea’s worldwide picture.

The anti-dog meat marketing campaign not too long ago acquired an enormous increase when the nation’s first woman expressed her assist for a ban and two lawmakers submitted payments to eradicate the canine meat commerce.

“Foreigners suppose South Korea is a cultural powerhouse. However the extra Okay-culture will increase its worldwide standing, the larger shock foreigners expertise over our canine meat consumption,” stated Han Jeoungae, an opposition lawmaker who submitted laws to outlaw the canine meat trade final month.

Prospects for passage of an anti-dog meat legislation are unclear due to protests by farmers, restaurant house owners and others concerned within the canine meat trade. Surveys recommend that one in three South Koreans opposes such a ban, although most individuals don’t eat canine meat anymore.

Canine are additionally eaten in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, North Korea and a few African nations, together with Ghana, Cameroon, Congo and Nigeria.

Earlier this month, Indonesian authorities introduced the top of canine and cat slaughter at an animal market on the island of Sulawesi following a yearslong marketing campaign by native activists and world celebrities. The Tomohon Excessive Market will change into the primary such market in Indonesia to go canine and cat meat-free, in accordance with the anti-animal cruelty group Humane Society Worldwide.

South Korea’s canine meat trade receives extra worldwide consideration due to its status as a rich, ultra-modern democracy. It’s also the one nation with industrial-scale farms. Most farms in South Korea have greater than 500 canine, in accordance with a canine farmers’ affiliation.

Throughout a latest go to, Kim’s farm, one of many nation’s largest with 7,000 canine, appeared comparatively clear however there was a powerful stench in some areas. All canine are stored in elevated cages and are fed with meals waste and floor rooster. They’re hardly ever launched for train and sometimes are bought for meat one 12 months after they’re born.

Kim stated two of his youngsters, age 29 and 31, are working the farm with him, and that enterprise has been going fairly nicely. He stated the canine bred for his or her meat are completely different from pets, an thought opposed by activists.

It’s troublesome now to seek out canine meat eating places in Seoul’s bustling downtown, although many nonetheless exit within the countryside.

“I solely earn one-third of the cash I used to make. Younger individuals don’t come right here. Solely ailing previous individuals come for lunch,” stated Yoon Chu-wol, 77, the proprietor of a canine meat restaurant in Seoul’s Kyungdong conventional market. “I inform my aged prospects to come back and eat my meals extra ceaselessly earlier than it’s banned.”

Farmers additionally face rising scrutiny from officers and more and more unfavourable public opinion. They complain that officers go to them repeatedly in response to complaints filed by activists and residents over alleged animal abuse and different wrongdoing. Kim stated greater than 90 such petitions had been filed in opposition to his farm throughout a latest four-month span.

Son Gained Hak, common secretary of the canine farmers’ affiliation, stated many farms have collapsed lately due to falling canine meat costs and weaker demand. He thinks that’s a results of activist campaigns and unfair media studies specializing in farms with inferior situations. Some observers, nonetheless, say consumption of canine meat was already declining, with youthful individuals staying away from it.

“Fairly actually, I’d prefer to stop my job tomorrow. We are able to’t confidently inform our kids that we’re elevating canine,” Son stated. “When my mates known as me, they stated ‘Hey, are you continue to working a canine meat farm? Isn’t it unlawful?’”

The variety of farms throughout South Korea has dropped by half from just a few years in the past to about 3,000 to 4,000, and about 700,000 to 1 million canine are slaughtered annually, a decline from a number of million 10 to twenty years in the past, in accordance with the canine farmers’ affiliation. Some activists argue that the farmers’ estimates are an exaggeration meant to point out their trade is just too massive to destroy.

In late 2021, South Korea launched a government-civilian process drive to think about outlawing canine meat on the suggestion of then-President Moon Jae-in, a pet lover. The committee, whose members embody farmers and animal rights activists, has met greater than 20 instances however hasn’t reached any settlement, apparently due to disputes over compensation points.

Agriculture officers refused to reveal the discussions within the closed-door conferences. They stated the federal government needs to finish canine meat consumption based mostly on a public consensus.

In April, first woman Kim Keon Hee, the spouse of present President Yoon Suk Yeol, stated in a gathering with activists that she hopes for an finish to canine meat consumption. Famers responded with rallies and formal complaints in opposition to Kim for allegedly hurting their livelihoods.

Han, the lawmaker, stated she “extremely positively appraises” influential figures talking out in opposition to canine meat consumption.

Han stated her invoice gives assist packages for farmers who agree to shut their farms. They’d be entitled to cash to dismantle their services, vocational coaching, employment help and different advantages, she stated.

Ju Yeongbong, an official of the farmers’ affiliation, stated farmers wish to proceed for about 20 extra years till older individuals, their primary prospects, die, permitting the trade to naturally disappear. Observers say most farmers are additionally of their 60s to 70s.

Borami Website positioning, a director of the South Korea workplace of the Humane Society Worldwide, stated she opposes the continued killing of thousands and thousands of canine for such a chronic interval. “Letting this silent cruelty to (canine) be dedicated in South Korea doesn’t make sense,” Website positioning stated.

“(Canine meat consumption) is just too anachronistic, has parts of cruelty to animals and hinders our nationwide progress,” stated Cheon JinKyung, head of Korea Animal Rights Advocates in Seoul.

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