South Korea: President Moon Jae-in says time has come to consider dog meat ban

South Korea’s president has said the country should consider banning the eating of dog meat.

It comes amid renewed debate over the controversial tradition.

While the consumption of dog meat is not as common as it was, the animal is still eaten by mostly older people and is served in some restaurants and at specific markets.

Moon Jae-in made the remarks after the prime minister, Kim Boo-kyum, briefed him on efforts to improve the handling of abandoned animals and a registration system for dogs

“After the briefing, he said time has come to carefully consider imposing a dog meat ban,” Mr Moon’s spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said in a statement.

It is the first time the South Korean president has raised the possibility of such a ban.

Several presidential hopefuls have said they will ban dog meat in recent weeks in efforts to boost their popularity.

Dogs are becoming increasingly popular as pets in South Korea and animal rights groups have urged the government to shut down restaurants and markets selling dog meat.

Lee Jae-myung, governor of the country’s most populous province, Gyeonggi, and a leading presidential contender in Mr Moon’s own party, has vowed to push for a ban through social consensus.

But his opposition frontrunner, Yoon Seok-youl, has said the matter should be left to people’s personal choice.

A poll commissioned by animal welfare group Aware found 78% of respondents believed the production of dog and cat meat should be banned, while 49% supported a ban on consumption.

However, another survey by polling firm Realmeter found people were divided on whether the government should ban the consumption of dog meat, though 59% supported legal restrictions on dog slaughter for human consumption.

Dog meat sellers argue they have a right to their occupation and have warned their livelihoods are at risk.

South Korea’s presidential election is due to be held on 9 March 2022.

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