With presidential elections on the 9th of May, we thought we’d take a brief look at the five main candidates’ policy pledges regarding animal welfare during their campaigns, and particularly their stance on dog meat.
First and foremost, all five candidates realize that animal welfare is becoming an important issue in modern Korea. They all have definite policy promises about animal welfare, and dog meat in particular, with most having policies that tend towards the banning of dog meat.
It is obvious that all of them are reading the mood of the nation; the eating of dog meat, whether it is or is not traditional, is becoming a shameful anachronism in the modern world, and, with or without their help, will disappear in the not too distant future. If they can garner some political capital from helping the process along—or at least not preventing it—even better.
Let’s take brief look at the candidates’ promises. They are ordered by their ballot number, not by the strength of their policies.
The front-runner, Jae-in Moon promises to gradually ban dog meat.
There are no specifics and no time frame. This is the vaguest of the policy promises, but at least it has the goal of banning dog meat.
Cheol-soo Ahn, the technology millionaire, has stated outright that he is opposed to dog meat.
He promises to ban dog meat and provide compensation to those directly and indirectly affected, i.e. dog farms, vendors, and restaurants.
This is a stronger and more pragmatic policy, as it takes account of the economic realities of having to give up or change one’s trade.
Joon-pyo Hong promises to strengthen the regulations surrounding the management of dog farms, and conduct a survey of inhumane farms to raise awareness of the issue.
This is the weakest of the policy promises, as it only talks about regulating the industry and not banning it.
Seung-min Yoo promises to ban illegal dog farms, and ban the illegal practices in the industry. Whether this indicates a distinction between legal and illegal dog farms is not known.
He also promises to gradually change the dog meat culture. There are no specifics on how he will do this.
Sang-jeong Shim promises to regulate and reduce dog meat farms, leading to the eventual banning of dog meat. Again, there are no specifics on how or when this will be done.
We have to remember that the candidates have only had 60 days to prepare their campaigns. However, the hedging of some of these policy statements makes you think that some of the candidates are trying to please both progressives and conservatives.
Dog meat is going away, there is no doubt about it. The presidential candidates know it, and the nation knows it. It’s just a case of when, and who makes it happen.
Featured image: VOA News. L-R: Sang-jeong Shim, Joon-pyo Hong, Seung-min Yoo, Jae-in Moon, and Cheol-soo Ahn.