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Seoul Mayor Park takes pooches’ side in dog meat debate

Feb 11,2019
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon announced that he will “work for a complete elimination of the existing dog slaughter houses and vendors in Seoul altogether,” on Saturday after watching "Underdog," an animated film about abandoned street dogs that almost end up in the cooking pot.

During a “communication with the audience” session after watching the movie at the Lotte Cinema in central Seoul, Park said, “A city with guaranteed animal rights has guaranteed human rights. “In the case of Seoul,” the mayor continued, “there were a lot of dog slaughterhouses and butchers concentrated at Cheongnyangni. Most of them are gone now, but there are still one or two businesses that are still actively operating, which is a problem. Stray dogs need to be provided with the rights they deserve and should be provided with new homes.”

He added that because slaughterhouses and butchers cannot be shut down by force, the Seoul City Council plans to “pressure them with various measures.”

“Strictly speaking, dogs are considered livestock and therefore, if they aren’t cruelly butchered, we [the Seoul City Council] sadly do not have the right to shut them down.”

Currently, Seoul has five dog meat businesses, all concentrated in Gyeongdong Market in Jegi-dong. Two of the businesses slaughter dogs and three butcher and sell dog meat.

Park’s announcement highlighted the clash between the owners of the dog slaughterhouses and dog-meat restaurants, and the more dog-friendly pet-owners of Seoul. According to the Seoul City Council, there has been a steady increase of protests from members of the public over dog slaughterhouses and dog meat restaurants since 2005. Some call them “barbaric” and say they “give bad impressions of the city.”

One owner of a dog meat restaurant in Gyeongdong Market, who requested for anonymity, said on Saturday, “I don’t get why it is OK to slaughter animals like cows and pigs, but not dogs. Technically, they are domestic animals. The city has no right whatsoever to pressure private businesses.”

Meanwhile, Park stated Saturday that he will “work on increasing the adoption rates of stray dogs to pull up the roots of this problem, and start a campaign to prevent the abandoning of the dogs.” “Watching the movie, I felt a deep responsibility for the pending problems of stray dogs that have been a constant issue in our society,” Park said. “It’s time to take action and protect the rights of these animals by gradually shutting down dog slaughterhouses and butchers.”

BY LEE HAE-SUN [lee.haesun@joongang.co.kr]