|Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, right, speaks at a Seoul movie theater, Saturday, after watching 'Underdog,' an animated film about abandoned dogs. / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government|
By Kim Jae-heun
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said, Saturday, the city government will shut down all dog butcheries in the capital as the nation as a whole struggles over whether to eliminate the dog meat business.
His remarks came after watching "Underdog," an animated film about abandoned dogs that find themselves in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
"In the past, we had several dog butcher shops in Cheongnyangni, but I closed almost all of them down through various measures," Park said. "Currently, one or two dog slaughterhouses remain. I cannot force them to go out of business, so I will put pressure on them to move."
Of five shops selling dog meat in Gyeongdong Market in Jegi-dong ― the main market for the trade in the capital ― three only sold meat while two also slaughtered dogs on the premises.
The mayor's plan was announced as local animal rights groups are pitted against dog farm owners who are protesting to protect their livelihoods. Some Koreans have traditionally eaten dog meat in the summer.
Park also raised the issue of the growing number of abandoned dogs.
"Every year, 8,500 dogs are abandoned in Seoul and a quarter of them are euthanized because they are not adopted. I believe in building a peaceful world that is also a safe place for animals," Park said.
The mayor said he went to see the film to "find a way to raise the adoption rate for stray dogs" and promote a campaign encouraging people not to abandon animals.
"I heard there are wild dogs on Mount Bukhan. I feel responsible for them, and this was a burden while watching the film," Park added.
"I published a thesis about animal rights when I was studying in England in 1991. Back then, I was a human rights lawyer and people condemned me for talking about animal rights when human rights are still not guaranteed. However, human rights are guaranteed in a society where animal rights are secured."
Park's visit to the theater and subsequent are seen as a move to keep awareness of animal rights in the wake of the recent CARE scandal that grabbed headlines.
Park So-yeon, the chief executive of Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) was recently accused of euthanizing more than 200 stray dogs without noting the organization's staff and members.
The chief executive argued that she did this for "humanitarian" reasons as most of them were suffering from a deadly illness or had a very low chance of being adopted.
However, the staff called for her resignation as she did not seek consent before euthanizing the animals.