Koreans aim to stamp
out cruelty to animals
SOUTH Korea is to toughen its laws to protect animals from abuse. The Korean government is seeking to pass a law that would strengthen the current animal protection act, in order to prevent inhumane treatment of animals, officials said.
"It may be nonsense that foreigners criticize Koreans eating habits in light of cultural relativism," said an official, citing overseas criticism of the custom of eating dog meat in Korea. "But slaughtering dogs in an inhumane way is a matter of serious concern."
As part of the post-World Cup measures to enhance Korea's international image, the government took steps to curb animal abuse, the official said. The new law envisaged by the government would specifically prevent slaughtering dogs by beating and killing them in open areas, as well as displaying dog meat in restaurants.
It will also include a ban on slaughtering cows after forcing them to drink an excessive amount of water. Traditionally dogs were hung or beaten with bats to soften the flesh before slaughter. Some people used to force cows to drink water to increase their weight and in turn earn more money, a practice that has almost disappeared now.
The new act is designed to eradicate such practices, the officials said. The act would also prohibit using electrocution or chemicals in fishing for financial gains.
Applying electric currents to shallow fresh water and spraying lethal chemicals on streams to catch fish are not unheard-of practices. Since no South Korean law bans the sale of dog meat, the government can crack down on dog eating by applying a law against consumption of foods they term "repulsive," including snakes.
Animal rights advocates have been pushing for changes to the animal protection law, established in 1991, under which there have been only several convictions. The animal protection law prohibits killing animals in ways that are "cruel," "provoke disgust," or "inflict unnecessary pain or injury."
It also bans the slaughtering of animals "without a proper, rational reason." Meanwhile, the Association of Dog Meat Restaurant Owners have been urging the government to legalise dog meat sales, which they say will ensure hygiene standards.
They sought to promote dog meat during the World Cup finals by setting up tasting booths at various soccer stadiums in Korea. They even considered introducing dog meat sandwiches or burgers, designed to appeal to the tastes of non-Koreans.
Some lawmakers took steps to revise a livestock law to include dogs in the category of livestock animals, which fuelled extensive criticism from abroad only months before the World Cup. - Dogaid Australia
As this magazine goes to print Dogaid Australia has informed us that Korea has passed its new laws requiring humane methods of killing dogs for the table. This is only slightly better than not having such a law and it remains to be seen whether it is enforced or simply ignored and treated as a token law. The slaughter of dogs for the table has never been a tradition in Korea - it is simply a devised form of growing cash. - Ed