Update: “Stop eating dogs!” Establishment of the consultative discussion committee on ending dog meat consumption
Below is a translation of a news article published by Aju News on December 12, 2021:
December 10th every year is World Animal Rights Day. This day was created to recognize the rights of animals everywhere that feel pain and experience emotions.
On the eve of World Animal Rights Day, the “consultative discussion committee on ending dog meat consumption” was formed. This group is dedicated to discussing ways to properly end dog meat consumption. The committee, made up of dog breeding farmers, government ministries, and animal protection groups, will discuss the issue of dog meat extensively until April next year and push for an official end to this industry.
‘Committee for the discussion of dog meat issues’ began its activity.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the committee to discuss the dog meat issue held its first meeting on December 9th at the government complex in Seoul. On that day, the committee discussed operating regulations, public awareness surveys, and a study of the breeding and distribution of ‘meat dogs.’
The committee, officially launched on that day, consisted of 21 members. It was chaired by Professor Jeong Kwang-Ho, dean of the Graduate School of Public Administration at Seoul National University. Four government officials, two officials from animal protection groups, and four dog meat farm owners and merchants will participate as members. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will take on the role of general manager and secretary of the committee.
If necessary, the discussion will be divided into the areas of production and distribution. The production division will be supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the dog meat producers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government members, and related experts will participate. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety will oversee the distribution division, and dog meat distributors and restaurants will participate instead of the dog meat producers. Other than that, the composition is the same as the production division.
The operating period is 5 months, starting in December and ending in April of next year. However, if deemed necessary, the period may be extended by a resolution of the committee. The meeting will be held once a month. But when necessary, additional sessions will be occasionally held.
6 ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, participated in discussions
The committee was established through government discussions. On November 25th, the government held a state affairs review and coordination meeting presided over by Prime Minister Kim Boo-Kyum to discuss the “direction of social discussion on the official end of dog eating.”
The meeting was attended by the Office of the Agriculture, Forestry, Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs of the Office of Government Policy Coordination and six other ministries. The discussion was held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Task Force (TF), Food Safety Policy Division of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Water Environment Policy Division of the Ministry of Environment, Communication Support Division of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Autonomous Administration Division of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, and Industrial Economy Division of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.
The participants decided to conduct a comprehensive and detailed study of the dog meat industry jointly with relevant ministries. In particular, they decided to create a social discussion organization to discuss the issue of dog meat extensively until April next year.
In addition, it was decided that a pan-government consultative organization composed of the head of the Office for Policy Coordination and Vice Ministers of relevant ministries will develop a plan to implement the decisions of the social discussion committee. The pan-government consultative organization includes the Vice Ministers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affair, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.
The roles of each ministry were specified. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs serve as the general manager and secretary of the social discussion committee and the government support council. It also plays the role of general manager and secretary for fact-finding survey and support review. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety conducts fact-finding investigations on dog meat restaurants and distribution channel. These two ministries also form separate task forces. The Ministry of Environment will support the survey of dog farms.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and the Ministry of Environment will review the proposals related to dog meat consumption and conduct inspections of illegal activities.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will ask for public comments while discussing the potential end to eating dog meat. The Ministry of Public Administration and Security will ask the local governments with dog breeding farms to cooperate with the fact-finding investigation. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance is in charge of discussing the budget for implementing the plan. The Office of National Assistance will oversee the operation and support of social discussion organizations and government support councils.
A government official recently stated, “Dog breeding, slaughter, distribution, and sales have been customary in the institutional blind spot, so it is crucial to understand the actual situation in order promote a policy to end dog eating and prepare new measures.”
Field survey of dog farms, restaurants, and opinion polls by February next year
The committee and the government will survey the public opinion on breeding and distribution of “meat dogs” starting this month.
The survey on the breeding and distribution of dogs for meat will be conducted jointly with related ministries for three months from December this year to February next year.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Environment are responsible for investigating dog breeding farms. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety are responsible for investigating dog slaughterhouses. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety will conduct a survey of related restaurants and merchants, such as dog meat soup (“bosintang”) restaurants and health centers. Relevant local government officials will personally visit sites to check the dog breeding status and business conditions.
Public opinion surveys will also be conducted this month. The plan is to survey 3,000 adults, men, and women over 19, nationwide by telephone interview and an online survey.
Jeong Gwang-Ho, chairman of the consultative discussion committee on ending dog meat consumption, said, “We will try to come up with reasonable alternatives to the dog meat consumption by collecting public opinions widely and through sufficient discussion among members.”
Opinions on dog eating are divided according to the details. On September 29-30, RnSearch, a polling company, surveyed 1,132 adults over 18 across the country about the idea of a ‘total ban of dog eating.’ 36.3% of respondents favored, and 27.5% opposed the ban. The survey was conducted after President Moon Jae-In stated on the 27th of the same month that “the time has come to carefully consider the ban on eating dogs.”
On the other hand, on November 2nd, when Realmeter, a polling company, asked 500 adult men and women across the country for their opinions on the ‘legislation of dog eating ban,’ by request of OhmyNews, the opposition (48.9%) greatly outnumbered those in favor (38.6%).
A bill banning the consumption of dogs is also dormant in the National Assembly. In December of last year, Representative Han Jeong-Ae of the Democratic Party of Korea, who is currently the Minister of Environment, proposed a bill to amend the Animal Protection Act, prohibiting the slaughter of dogs and cats for food or sale, punishing those who violate the law. However, the parliamentary debate has been slow thus far.
A government official said, “People are negative about eating dogs, but they are also negative about prohibiting it by laws… the dog meat issue is complex because it involves people’s basic rights and animal welfare. I hope that there will be enough communication and discussion in the social discussion committee.”