South Korea’s largest dog meat market: Only slaughter and display banned, not sale
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South Korea’s largest dog meat market: Only slaughter and display banned, not sale

SINCE early this week, the Internet has been abuzz with news of the crackdown on dog meat vendors at the infamous Seongnam city Moran Market.

According to reports, city officials caved to demands from both domestic and international animal rights advocates and agreed to issue a total ban on the trade in the traditional market said to be South Korea’s largest for dog meat. The Moran Market reportedly supplies a third of the estimated 2.5 million dogs consumed in the republic every year.

One report even claimed the market was shuttered completely, and quoted an activist thanking the city for taking a “humane” position on the matter.

There was immediate celebration from animal welfare groups all around as they described the move as a giant leap forward in a larger campaign to stop dog meat consumption in South Korea entirely.

But a closer look at the memorandum between city officials and market traders has unveiled a stunning fact: The agreement does not stop the sale of dog meat. It merely bans the live slaughter and display of the dogs at the market.

The authorities, upon reaching the deal, also agreed to help vendors relocate or provide financial support to refurbish their shops for new businesses.

Activist Nami Kim of SaveKoreanDogs highlighted the matter on Facebook on Thursday as more news reports rolled in calling the agreement a victory.

“I think we need to clarifies this. This announcement by the mayor of the city does not ban dog slaughtering at all. It was meant for the notorious Moran Market ONLY and the Livestock Vendors Association has not yet agreed to that yet,” the activist wrote.

The post was shared by animal welfare group on Twitter.

In a follow-up post on Friday, the group again called attention to the discrepancy, and directed its followers to a blogpost explaining the matter in greater detail.

“Before we pop the champagne, we must make it clear that this agreement DOES NOT STOP THE SALE OF DOG MEAT at this market.

“It only bans the display of live dogs in cages, as well as on site slaughter. Therefore, slaughtering will still continue elsewhere, outside of the Moran Market, and these dog meat vendors can continue to sell dog meat,” the group said.

It offered a translation of the agreement, which it quoted as saying that vendors “will not display dogs in cages for purpose of sale, will not slaughter dogs inside Moran Market (voluntary shutting down of related facilities), while city authorities will “provide support for conversion of business, relocation of business, environmental modification and administrative support”.

However, the group acknowledged that despite there being no ban on the sale of the meat, the ban on slaughter and display would likely negatively impact the trade and possibly discourage vendors from proceeding with sales.

“As such, this is a big step forward, as well as a victory for the countless animal activists who have campaigned for many years to shut this place down,” it said.

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Slaughter facilities in Moran Market are expected to be removed as early as next week.

The traditional market started in the 1960s has long been under attack from animal rights groups the world over due to its vendors’ use of brutal slaughter methods such as electrocution, hanging and beating of the canines.

According to In Defense of Animals (IDA), an advocacy group, dogs at the market are “hanged, beaten to death, strangled and frequently have their throats slashed.”

The belief, or myth, is that the more suffering the creature is made to endure, the more tender its meat will be, while its medicinal properties will be more potent.

Laws in South Korea do not expressly criminalise the sale and farming of dog meat, allowing the trade to continue to thrive in a legal grey area.

However, animal protection laws do prevent abuse, with provisions that prohibit any killing by brutal methods, as well as any killing in public or in another animal’s presence.

There are an estimated 17,000 dog meat farms in South Korea alone.