South Korean lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation aimed at prohibiting the sale and consumption of dog meat, a controversial centuries-old custom which is neither explicitly banned nor legalized at the moment.
According to media reports, the act was proposed by the main opposition Democratic Party on Thursday and immediately drew support from the ruling People Power Party, which would bring enough votes to pass the bill.
“About 10 million South Korean households raise pets. Now is the time to put an end to dog eating,” the head of the ruling party’s policy committee, Park Dae-chul, said, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Park, who is also the party’s chief policymaker, used the term ‘Kim Keon-hee’s bill’, referring to the first lady, who has been campaigning to end the country’s practice of eating dog meat. The naming, however, sparked criticism even from fellow party members, who accused Park of fawning over the president.
The first lady has supported a ban on all types of dog meat trade and consumption. Last month, she urged the National Assembly to pass a law to put an end to the practice, and promised to “campaign and make efforts to bring an end to dog meat consumption.”
“Humans and animals should coexist,”she said at a press conference hosted by a civic group in late August, adding that “Illegal dog meat activities should be put to an end.”
Dog meat consumption is a centuries-old custom on the Korean Peninsula, but has been on the decline over the past few years.
In recent years, the number of farms across South Korea has decreased by half, but 700,000 to a million dogs are still slaughtered each year, a decline from the millions from a decade ago, according to the dog farmer’s association.
Previous attempts by the government to outlaw the dog meat industry altogether were opposed by dog farmers and restaurant owners for fear of losing their livelihood. The farmers argue that dogs bred for their meat are different from pets.