SEOUL, Jul. 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Animal activists filed a petition with the office of President Moon Jae-in and held a rally featuring one of Moon’s pet dogs on Tuesday to call for a ban on dog meat consumption on the first of the summer’s three hottest “dog days.”
Tuesday is “chobok,” one of 24 seasonal markers on the lunar calendar, and forms “sambok” or the three hottest days together with two other dog days. It has been a tradition in Korea to eat stamina foods, such as ginseng chicken soup, on those days to fight the heat.
Dog meat consumption used to be popular on those days too, even though the practice has faded markedly in recent decades amid strong criticism of killing man’s best friend for meat. Still, activists claim thousands of dogs are slaughtered every day.
On Tuesday morning, members of the animal rights group KARA held a rally in front of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, calling for a complete ban on dog meat consumption. Other animal groups also planned to hold a similar rally or other events to call for the ban.
“President Moon Jae-in’s pet dog Maru is living happily at Cheong Wa Dae as the first dog of the Republic of Korea. However, other dogs … are brutally raised and slaughtered in the name of food purposes,” KARA said in a statement. “We have to discard the self-contradictory attitude of differentiating meat dogs and pet dogs.”
The group claimed that about 6,000 dog farms are believed to be scattered across the country.
“Maru’s friends locked in there are waiting for death while eating garbage,” the group said. “Even though the practice of eating dog meat remains in other nations, the Republic of Korea is the only country that has large-scale, factory-like farms. Small and cute puppies are abused and killed at dog farms.”
Another animal group, CARE, held an exhibition of thousands of stuffed dogs modeled after Tori, another pet dog of President Moon. The exhibition at the City Hall plaza was titled, “I’m not food. Please embrace (me) without eating.”
Moon adopted Tori from the group last year, and officials said the dog will appear at the event.
“The animal rights group Care asked us whether Tori can take part in the rally, and the secretary’s office accepted the request,” an official said.
Moon’s daughter, Da-hye, took Tori to the event and handed it over to event organizers, but didn’t take part in the rally, officials said. Officials, however, cautioned against reading too much into the decision.
“Tori was also rescued after nearly losing its life as a meat dog,” an official said. “There was a request from the group, and we decided to accept it in consideration of relations between Tori and the group.”
Later in the day, another group, Animal Liberation Wave, planned to hold a press conference calling for a ban on slaughtering dogs and to then lead a funeral procession to the presidential office to commemorate dogs killed for meat.