The South Korean government has announced plans to end the traditional but controversial practice of eating dogs on Friday.
“It is time to put an end to social conflicts and controversies around dog meat consumption through the enactment of a special act to end it,” said Yu Eui-dong, head of policy for the ruling People Power Party, at a meeting with government officials and animal rights activists.
Mr Yu said the government would table a bill this year to enforce a ban, adding that he was confident it would pass with bipartisan support.
Agriculture Minister Chung Hwang-keun told the meeting that the government would implement a ban quickly and provide support for businesses in the dog meat industry that would be required to close.
The proposed bill would be phased in over three years and come into full effect in 2027.
Anti-dog meat bills have failed in the past because of protests by those involved in the industry, and worry about the livelihoods of farmers and restaurant owners.
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee have criticised dog meat consumption and adopted stray dogs.
Animal rights groups welcomed the prospect of a ban. “A dream come true for all of us who have campaigned so hard to end this cruelty,” Humane Society International said in a statement.
Eating dog meat is a longstanding practice across the Korean peninsula, although it has reportedly declined in recent years.
There are more than 1,000 dog breeding farms, 34 slaughter houses, 219 distribution companies, and around 1,600 restaurants serving dog meat, according to government data.
A Gallup Korea poll last year showed 64 per cent opposed dog meat consumption. The survey found that only 8 per cent of respondents had eaten dog within the past year, down from 27 per cent in 2015.
With additional reporting from agencies