A notorious dog meat market in South Korea was finally shut down on Monday (July 1), a feat animal welfare charities are hailing a success.
The Gupo dog meat market in Busan was one of the country’s largest markets selling chilled dog meat, as well as live dogs killed to order.
More than 80 terrified dogs were rescued on Monday as part of a negotiated closure with local authorities and the dog meat vendors, who will be offered compensation to set up alternative businesses.
The rescued dogs are now in the care of animal charities Humane Society International (HSI), Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA), Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA), and Busan Korean Alliance for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KAPCA) – all of whom worked with authorities to close the market.
Nara Kim, dog meat campaigner for HSI who attended the closure and rescue, said:
I cannot express enough my joy at helping to close down the dog meat shops and slaughterhouse at Gupo market. For decades they have stood as a very public symbol of the immense cruelty of the dog meat trade, with live dogs displayed in cages on the street for shoppers to select for slaughter by electrocution.
The closure of Gupo’s dog meat market means the end of a gruesome era in South Korea’s dog meat history, and a sign of the times that law enforcement and local authorities are cracking down on this increasingly unpopular industry that most Koreans want nothing to do with.
I know we have a long way to go to end the dog meat trade here, but even two years ago I would never have believed we would see such progress. It has been a pleasure to work with the Busan authorities, and especially in being able to save the last remaining dogs we found alive.
Nara Kim of HSI described the scene as ‘really upsetting,’ with dogs displayed in cages in front of each store. ‘The smell was overwhelming,’ Kim continued.
All of the dogs rescued by the animal welfare charity have now been removed and transported to a temporary shelter where they will be able to recover from their ordeal.
A select few will remain in Korea to find new homes, whereas the others will be flown overseas to Canada or the United States by HSI to get the care they deserve, before being found adoptive homes.
The closure of Gupo is the latest in a series of crack downs by officials in the dog meat trade; just last year, Seongnam city – also in South Korea – demolished the country’s largest dog slaughterhouse, Taepyeong, and closed down most of the related dog meat vendors.
However, this week’s closure is the first which has ensured a complete agreement between the vendors and local authorities has been reached first.
Although more than 80 dogs were rescued on Monday, there are an estimated 2 million dogs bred on dog meat farms across the country – all of whom are subjected to a life of suffering on these farms, as well as cruel and brutal deaths.
HSI is continuing to work with dog meat farmers to close down these farms and help them make the transition to alternative, humane livelihoods.
Yim Soonrye, of Korea Animal Rights Advocates, said:
The Korean dog meat industry is starting to fall. As local governments are moving forward, the Korean government must also take action by closing all illegal dog farms.
We welcome the decision made by Busan Metropolitan City and the merchants of Gupo, and believe that the shutdown of Gupo dog market will be a major stepping stone towards ending dog meat in Korea.
Neither illegal or legal in the country, the industry remains in legal limbo as many provisions of the Animal Protection Act continue to be breached – such as the ban on killing animals in a brutal way such as electrocution and hanging.
Although more needs to be done, the closing of Gupo is certainly a step in the right direction.
Hopefully this move will pave the way to put an end to this horrendous practice once and for all.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).