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Article South Korea: New Law to Ban Breeding, Butchering, and Selling Dogs for Food Promulgated

On January 9, 2024, South Korea’s National Assembly passed a law that bans the breeding, butchering, distributing, and selling of dogs for meat. The new law was published in Gwanbo, South Korea’s official gazette, on February 6, 2024. (Special Act on the End of Breeding, Slaughtering, and Distribution of Dogs for Food Purposes, Act No. 20195.)

Contents of the New Law

The new law prohibits breeding, slaughtering, distributing, and selling dogs for consumption, as well as distributing or selling food containing parts of dogs. (Special Act art. 5.) A person who slaughters a dog for food is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years or a fine not exceeding 30 million won (about US$22,500). A person who breeds dogs for food or distributes or sells food containing dog parts is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or a fine not exceeding 20 million won (about US$15,000). (Art. 17.) Enforcement of these penal provisions will begin three years after the law’s promulgation. (Supp. Provisions.)

The minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs is to establish a basic plan to end the eating of dogs. The plan must include the following matters:

  • Matters concerning closures of dog farms, dog slaughterhouses, dog and dog part distribution merchants, and providers of food containing dog parts.
  • Matters concerning the protection and management of dogs renounced by dog farms.
  • Other matters necessary to end the eating of dogs (Art. 6.)

Dog farm owners, dog slaughterers, dog distributors, or providers of food containing dog parts must report their business to the head of a local government within three months from the date of publication of the law. They must also within six months from the publication of the law submit to the local governments a plan for ending their business and faithfully implement it. (Art. 10.) Establishing new dog farms, slaughterhouses, distribution businesses, or restaurants for food made with dogs is prohibited. (Art. 9.)

A person who newly or additionally installs or operates such facilities, who fails to report their business, or who fails to submit a business-closure implementation plan is punishable by a fine of not more than 3 million won (about US$2,250). (Art. 18.) This provision took effect immediately with the publication of the law. (Supp. Provisions art. 1.)

The national and local governments will provide support for the closure of such businesses and for finding new jobs for persons who lose their jobs from the closures. (Arts. 11 & 12.)

Background to the New Law’s Adoption

According to a Yonhap News Agency article that cited government statistics, there are around 1,150 dog farms, 34 butchering businesses, 219 distributors, and 1,600 restaurants that sell food made with dog meat in South Korea. “Boshintang, or dog meat stew, has long been a staple for South Koreans to beat the heat during ‘chobok’, the beginning of the hottest summer days according to the lunar calendar.” Koreans have been divided over the eating of dogs. “While a number of pet owners regard dogs as companion animals, others say eating them is a distinctive aspect of the country’s culinary culture and a basic right to determine one’s food choices.”

Under the Animal Protection Act (Act No. 18853, Apr. 26, 2022), the animal abuse punishment “does not apply to dogs that are bred for consumption” because such dogs are not regarded as pets and thus not protected under the act.

Sayuri Umeda, Law Library of Congress
April 11, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Umeda, Sayuri. South Korea: New Law to Ban Breeding, Butchering, and Selling Dogs for Food Promulgated. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-04-10/south-korea-new-law-to-ban-breeding-butchering-and-selling-dogs-for-food-promulgated/.

APA citation style:

Umeda, S. (2024) South Korea: New Law to Ban Breeding, Butchering, and Selling Dogs for Food Promulgated. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-04-10/south-korea-new-law-to-ban-breeding-butchering-and-selling-dogs-for-food-promulgated/.

MLA citation style:

Umeda, Sayuri. South Korea: New Law to Ban Breeding, Butchering, and Selling Dogs for Food Promulgated. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-04-10/south-korea-new-law-to-ban-breeding-butchering-and-selling-dogs-for-food-promulgated/>.