|Hollywood actress Kim Basinger, right, holds up a life-size model of an electrocuted dog with other animal rights activists in front of the National Assembly, Friday. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul|
Hollywood actress Kim Basinger shows up to support local animal rights groups
By Lee Suh-yoon
Animal rights groups have called on lawmakers to pass an amended Animal Protection Act banning dog meat consumption here.
During a rally in front of the National Assembly, Friday, protesters set up a symbolic altar piled with life-size replicas of electrocuted dogs at farms. One activist held up the actual remains of a puppy that had died from poor conditions at a dog farm.
|A dog rescued from a dog farm in South Gyeongsang Province at an animal rights rally / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul|
The rally took place on "chobok," a day marking the beginning of the hottest days of summer on the Korean lunar calendar. On this day, Koreans traditionally consume hot meaty soup dishes ― most commonly samgyetang, or chicken ginseng soup ― to regain lost stamina from the heat. Though declining in number, some older citizens prefer dog meat.
"How many millions more must die for the National Assembly to face the shameful and cruel history of dog slaughter?" the groups asked. "We condemn the Assembly's agriculture and livestock industry committee for turning a blind eye to the painful and merciless slaughter of dogs while taking on issues related to pet owner and non-pet owner conflict, the need for animal graves and a registration system to prevent abandoned pets."
|An animal rights activist holds on to a life-size model of a slaughtered dog. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul|
In June last year, Rep. Pyo Chang-won of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea proposed a revision bill to the Animal Protection Act that would prevent the slaughter of animals that are not specified as livestock ― namely dogs and cats. The bill, however, has been pending at the committee for over a year without being given a proper review. The delay has caused the slaughter of over a million dogs, rights groups claim.
The rally was also joined by Hollywood actress Kim Basinger. A vocal animal rights activist, Basinger asked Korean celebrities to join her in the fight to ban the dog meat trade in the country.
"I would love for anyone out there who can hear this who is a celebrity in the area to come and get involved in this movement," she said. "I love K-pop and the celebrities from Seoul. If you are out there, be brave, be bold."
|Dog meat farmers hold a tasting event next to an animal rights groups' rally. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul|
Local rights groups also claim the ban is fitting with the times. According to a 2018 Realmeter poll provided by rally organizers Animal Liberation Wave (ALW) and Last Chance for Animals (LCA), 46 percent of Koreans support a ban on dog meat consumption, while only 18.5 percent are against a ban.
The numbers are not surprising, considering over a fifth of the population keep pets as household companions. Traditional markets that specialized in dog meat trade are disappearing. The most recent closure was the Gupo livestock market in Busan on Thursday.
Just 10 meters from the protest, dog meat farmers held their own rally, including a tasting event for dog meat. The farmers said dogs should be considered on par with other livestock and that some 70,000 people depend on the dog meat industry for jobs.