Dog meat farms in South Korea are beginning to close down as Korean’s attitudes about eating dogs continue to change. Humane Society International has recently announced the 17th dog farm closure, and the rescue of almost 200 dogs from different locations across the country.
Former dog farmer Kim Il-hwan, says that he has been in the industry for over 40 years, but now wants to get out of the business. Kim was compensated by HSI for closing his farm, which was an appealing deal considering that business has been so bad in recent years.
“It’s been really difficult the past five or six years. Dog meat consumption is really low and is getting lower. I don’t think anyone under 50 years old eats dogs anymore. The media coverage of the animal protection movement has changed people’s minds so much. There’s no future in dog farming,” Kim said.
Kim said that even his attitudes about the industry have changed, and he’s happy to be getting out of the business.
“I feel sorry for the dogs. I don’t eat dog meat myself anymore. I’m happy for the dogs now. They are going to a good place,” Kim said.
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While dog meat remains legal in South Korea, it is quickly falling out of favor, especially among young people. According to a Nielsen poll sponsored by HSI, 84% of South Koreans said they haven’t consumed dog meat or won’t eat it in the future. Another 59% of respondents in the new survey said they support banning dog meat.
Kelly O’Meara, HSI’s vice president of companion animal campaigns, believes that there is still work to do before dog meat is a thing of the past in South Korea
“Although most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog meat, and support for a ban is growing, there remain thousands of farms of all sizes across the country where dogs of all breeds endure a harsh existence. With fewer people wanting to eat dog, farmers can see the writing is on the wall for this dying industry and so they work with HSI to find a solution that gives both them and their remaining dogs a chance of a new life. With such interest from dog farmers, and public support, we hope the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good,” O’Meara said.
Despite the changing attitudes, HSI estimates that there are still over 2,800 registered dog farms operating in South Korea.
Images credit: Jean Chung/For HSI