BUSAN, South Korea––A potentially precedent-setting criminal prosecution of a South Korean dog meat vendor may be imminent, Korea Alliance for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals translator April Kim posted to the Asia Animal Protection Network on April 13, 2014.
On February 9, 2014, Kim recounted, translating from KAPCA statements originally posted to Facebook six days earlier, “our Busan KAPCA planning team witnessed dog killed by hanging at a slaughterhouse. We reported this case to the police. We just received an update on the result of police investigation of this case. We were notified that the case is now turned over to the prosecutor’s office with a recommendation of indictment for violation of the South Korean Animal Protection Act.
“We have made reports to the police numerous times in the past,” Kim wrote, “but I think this is the first time ever that the provisions of the Animal Protection Act will be used to bring an indictment.”
In September 2001, as the 2002 World Cup of Football approached, the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries promised in writing to collaborate with the Ministry of Health & Welfare to “crack down on the illegal killing of dogs and cats and selling their meat.” The agencies agreed that “Food sold to the public must be registered according to the Food Sanitation Law,” noting that “Articles 31 and 42 of the law classify dog meat stew and dog juice as disgusting foods and therefore ban making or selling them. Article 6 of the Animal Protection Law,” the agencies acknowledged, “bans killing an animal without a rational reason and forbids abusing or killing an animal in a cruel and disgusting way. We have already instructed cities and provincial governments to form teams of police officers and public servants to enforce the laws,” the agencies said, but no action followed.
After the 2002 World Cup of Football, dog meat dealers resumed a long campaign to overturn the laws that might be enforced against dog and cat consumption, on the pretext that this would permit regulating the trade to make it “humane.”
KAPCA had posted to Facebook and web pages photos of the dog hanging, and of “animals put in onion bags and sold illegally at the Busan Gupo dog meat market,” April Kim explained.
“On weekends and market days many illegal vendors come to this market and sell puppies, kittens, and various other animals. Our planning team repeatedly reported them as illegal,” Kim said, but the authorities “kept making excuses for the vendors, saying that selling animals is their livelihood, and that they had instructed the vendors not to sell them.
“The police have classified us as habitual accusers,” Kim added, “and they delayed responding. Sometimes they didn’t even get out of their car after arriving at the scene. They have told us that they will investigate complaints, saying that they have the identities of the violators, and then later have told us that they cannot punish them because they didn’t know who the violators were. However, our planning team never let that discourage us.”
KAPCA has received encouragement from the Animals Asia Foundation, Change for Animals Foundation, Humane Society International, and In Defense of Animals, Kim said.
Surveillance of the Busan Gupo dog meat market by KAPCA members has discovered that the customers are mostly Chinese and Vietnamese migrant workers, Kim posted to AAPN. “As of March 2013,” Kim wrote, “91% of all foreigners in Korea are Chinese and Vietnamese. 20% of these foreigners are migrant workers residing in Busan.”
This has suggested to KAPCA that a program designed to educate Chinese and Vietnamese against eating dogs might be effective. KAPCA has begun advertising to find a volunteer educator with appropriate language skills and other qualifications: http://koreandogs.org/full-time-volunteer-position-available-in-busan-s-korea/