South Korea Shuts Down Its Biggest Dog Meat Slaughterhouse

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empty cages in slaughterhouseMichael Bernard/HSI

In a ‘landmark moment’ for campaigners, South Korea has shut down its largest dog meat slaughterhouse.

Marking a huge step forward in the demise of the dog meat trade, local authorities have closed the facility, and the council intends to build a community park on the land.

The complex in Taepyeong-dong, Seongnam city, south of Seoul, is said to have housed at least six slaughterhouses, which could each hold hundreds of animals at a time. The facility was one of the largest suppliers of dog meat for restaurants across the country.

The site will be cleared over two days, city officials have said.

According to Humane Society International (HSI), conditions within the slaughterhouses were ‘horrifying’. A large number of empty wire cages were found, which would have held hundreds of dogs, as well as the electrocution equipment used to kill them. Knives and a de-hairing machine were also found.

Nara Kim, a campaigner from HSI Korea, said:

Both as a Korean citizen and an animal campaigner, it was incredibly moving for me to a part of the historic closure of this notorious dog slaughterhouse. I shudder to think how many millions of beautiful dogs will have met their horrific fate at this place over the years.

It was a stain on the city of Seongnam and we are so pleased to see it bulldozed. This really feels like a landmark moment in the demise of the dog meat industry in South Korea, and sends the clear message that the dog meat industry is increasingly unwelcome in Korean society.

Check out footage of the slaughterhouses being bulldozed here:

Five of the six slaughterhouses are to be bulldozed immediately. Permission to destroy the sixth was not secured in time for the closure, however all its cages and internal equipment will be removed so it is no longer operational.

machinery in slaughterhouseMichael Bernard/HSI

As well as the closure of the slaughterhouses, the last remaining ‘bricks & mortar’ vendor, which sells live dogs at Moran Market, will also be closed.

Moran Market used to be the largest dog meat market in South Korea. Thanks to local authorities and campaign groups, however, the number of dog meat shops has significantly decreased. While pop-up shops still exist, the closure of the last permanent vendor selling dogs for the meat trade is major victory in efforts to dismantle the dog meat market.

Wendy Higgins at HSI United Kingdom, who has attended five of the charity’s dog meat farm closures, said this was starting to feel like the beginning of the end of dog meat in South Korea.

She said:

Shutting down Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse was full of mixed emotions for our team because on the one hand it was a thrill to watch such an horrendous place be bulldozed, along with all the killing equipment we found inside. But on the other hand it was chilling to walk through such a dreadful place of death and suffering and to think of the poor dogs who will have had their terrible last moments there.

At the demolition site there is a real sense of excitement, with local residents coming out to thank us for destroying the facility because for years they’ve endured hearing the screams of suffering every morning from the dogs inside. We hope that this is the first of many more such closures across the country, it is certainly starting to feel like the beginning of the end of the dog meat industry in South Korea.

According to HSI, eating dog meat is quickly declining in popularity, particularly in South Korea among younger consumers. The closure of South Korea’s largest dog meat slaughterhouse is a huge step forward in bringing an end to the trade.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.