Restaurant Daegyo in South Korea, the longest-running restaurant serving dog-based meals in the country, has closed its doors after 33 years in business.
Years of campaigning by animal lovers in South Korea are finally paying off. Oh Keum-il, Daegyo’s owner, explained that they practically don’t have young costumers due to society changing its ways and seeing dogs more like pets rather than food.
South Koreans used to eat dog stew mostly during the summer months because it was believed it helped balance the body’s heat during summer. But nowadays more and more people are changing to chicken or duck soup instead.
Oh Keum-il said that as many as 700 bowls of dog stew were sold in her restaurant in the 80s, and now it’s declined to less than half.
“Dog is not an industry with a long-term future,” said dog butcher Shin Jang-un to The Associated Press. “New generations don’t eat a lot.”
Up to 30 per cent of South Koreans have eaten dog meat at least once in their lifetime, but only a small percentage eats it on a regular basis.
Animal rights groups estimate more than 2 million dogs are killed for food in South Korea every year despite it being technically illegal and not regulated.
Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) explains that dogs are defined as ‘livestock’ by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, but are not defined as ‘livestock’ under the Livestock Processing Law.
This means technically it is illegal to process dogs like livestock and use dog meat as any kind of food product, but it is not illegal to breed, or raise, or slaughter dogs for dog meat.
“The situation could be summed up with this paradox: it is illegal to produce and consume dog meat but it is not against the law,” says KARA.
Dog meat in South Korea is mainly provided to restaurants by dog breeders running dog farms, specially breeding Nureongi. They are raised in tiny cages above the ground where they spend all their short lives until ready for slaughter.
KARA explains: “Dogs are electrocuted, hanged, beaten or burned to death. There is a perverted belief that the meat tastes better if dogs have high adrenaline levels in their meat before they die. Therefore, some dogs are made to experience extreme fear and suffering in the lead up to their deaths. Some dogs are hanged and then beaten while they are hanging and still alive. Others are hanged and then a blow torch is used on them while they are still alive to remove their hair. Others still are simply beaten and tortured to death. Generally, at the markets, dogs are electrocuted and then their necks are broken.”