Controversy over the maintenance of dog meat vendors at Moran market in Seongnam-city (The largest dog meat market in the country). Seven interdepartmental joint enforcement….Vendors backlash ‘threat to their livelihoods’.
Since July 5, Seongnam-city began an investigation of dog slaughter and sales conditions at the Moran Market area (Joongwon-gu, Seongnam-dong) and held several council meetings with directors and deputy mayor presiding.
A joint briefing session was held on July 21 at the mayor’s office by 7 city departments including the Local Economy(Animal Resources), River Maintenance, Water Quality Restoration, Joongwon-gu Borough Office Economy &Transportation, Environmental Sanitation, Construction and Building Department.
Contrast to the way they have been responding to the demands of the animal protection groups in the past with the “Legal Blind Spot” excuses, this time the issue is being taken far more seriously.
In 2002 ahead of Korea/Japan World Cup, city has conducted a crackdown but it was at most a half-hearted gesture.
This maintenance moved forward based on the decision by the city that “while there are no legal provision to ban the dog slaughter and sale, we can no longer seat idle and watch the city’s image being tarnished”.
Moran market, well known as ‘dog meat market’, and its surrounding area is a home to some 21 health food related businesses including the dog meat sales and dog elixir(on the spot sales/processing) businesses.
During the peak summer season, each vendor slaughters and sells around 10 dogs for meat, and 2-3 dogs for ‘dog elixir’ (a popular local concoction made by boiling dog meat with herbs, which is believed to be good for your health) a day. In addition to dogs, they sell goats, ducks and chickens.
Through this investigation, the city conducted a detailed inspection of the conditions of dog storage and dog meat display/sales.
The investigation found that the dog cages and the display shelves are occupying the road and the sidewalks without permission and the vendors are displaying the dog meat outside on market days causing people to feel disgust.
There were also suspicions that some vendors were disposing by-products of slaughter in garbage bags, or letting part of it flow down the drain.
Noises generated from the blowtorch during the slaughter process measured in excess of 60dB in the adjacent residential areas of these businesses.
However, due to the legal gap related to the dog meat, it is difficult for the city to impose any real controls.
Although dogs are classified as a livestock under both the Livestock Industry Act and the Livestock Prevention of Contagious Diseases Act, they are excluded from the livestock classification by the Livestock Products Sanitary Control Act.
This is due to the fact that dogs were excluded from the livestock classification during the 1988 Olympics in Seoul conscious of the global public opinion but the related law has not been properly revised.
Even though the city has examined various legal provisions such as Animal Protection Act Section 8 (Prohibition of Mistreatment of Animals), Water Quality and Ecosystems Conservation Act Section 33 (Wastewater Discharge Standard), Sewerage Act Section 2(Sewage Treatment Area), Waste Control Act Section 8 (Prohibition of Waste Dumping ), Noise and Vibration Control Act Section 21 (Standard Noise Control) Offensive Odor Prevention Act Section 8 (Offensive Odor Emission Facility) but could not find grounds to impose a crackdown.
Accordingly, the city has decided to tackle the issue of ‘disgust feeling’ first and demanded that vendors voluntarily remove the dog cages from the street and the sidewalks.
Moran Livestock Merchant Association responded “The removal of dog cages will directly affect our livelihood. If this crackdown is enforced, we will respond aggressively.”
They explained “Intestines are boiled and disposed of as food waste, several places have reduced noises by installing panels, odors are eliminated by administering EM (Effective Microorganism) culture fluid and slaughtering is being done behind the screen using the electrocution so there is no animal cruelty”.
Gang-Choon Lee, the president of Moran Livestock Merchant Association stated “Dog cages are located in spaces not used by people and singling us out while other businesses are in doing the same is not fair to us.”
President Lee argued “With the 40 years history of Moran Market, if the dog meat was to be missing it’s like the tradition is disappearing. If the city insist on crackdown they should offer us a fair compensation to induce closure of our businesses. It is not right to treat us as if we are criminals using the excuse of crackdown.”
Related article in Korean: S. Korea – Moran Market in Seongnam-Maintenance of Dog Meat Shops 성남 모란시장 업소정비vs생존권 자존심 건 ‘개 싸움’