On December 13th, 2016, the Moran Market Vendors’ Association and the Seongnam local government held a widely-publicised press conference for the signing of the agreement to refurbish and remodel Moran Market.
Under the agreement, the Vendors’ Association would voluntarily stop displaying and slaughtering live dogs, and remove the butchering facilities no later than May 31, 2017. The Seongnam government promised administrative support to help the vendors change their business types, transfer jobs, and refurbish the environment. All but two dog meat vendors in the Moran Market Vendors’ Association signed the agreement.
Even though the agreement was not to ban the selling of dog meat, but to remove the illegal butchering facilities, the agreement was welcomed as a step forward in resolving the controversial issue of selling dog meat at Moran Market. After the agreement was signed, some vendors implemented the agreement by destroying the crates where dogs had been displayed, and removing illegal butchering facilities.
As the result of our ongoing investigation during May and June of 2017, however, it was revealed that this was just a trick.
Of the vendors who removed dog display crates, 99% still slaughtered live dogs, hiding them inside or preventing them from being seen with boards. What is worse, most vendors kept doing business even knowing that their activities, including slaughtering dogs in front other dogs, are in blatant violation of the Animal Protection Act.
Furthermore, it was confirmed that the Moran Market Vendors’ Association does not have any intention of voluntarily removing the facilities.
To all intents and purposes, the agreement between the Seongnam government and the Vendors’ Association has not been, and will not be, implemented at all.
As of July 4, 2017, more than 20 dog meat wholesalers and retailers are doing business at Moran Market, and at least 13 vendors are continuing to illegally slaughter dogs. Some vendors complained that the Seongnam government failed to implement the agreement fully, and warned that they would have large-scale facilities for displaying live dogs as before. Saying that they cannot keep the current profit structure, they threatened to slaughter dogs if the mobile vehicles for slaughtering animals (such as chickens or goats) the Gyeonggi-do Government determined to provide are brought to the market.
The Seongnam government has confirmed that the term of the implementation of the agreement has been postponed indefinitely. This means that the Seongnam government has indirectly admitted that the voluntary implementation of the agreement is actually impossible.
For a while, the Seongnam government made an effort to implement the agreement and provided a variety of administrative services including consulting for transitioning businesses, funds to help small businesses, etc. Vendors who later judged that the agreement was not of benefit to them, however, have not implement the agreement. Now, vendors are requesting funds to support the closure of their businesses. The Seongnam government implements intermittent crackdowns and legal action against illegal acts, while adhering to the attitude that such support is impossible because there are no legal grounds for it.
Due to the conflict of opinions between the Seongnam government and the vendors at Moran Market, the suspension of the illegal slaughtering of dogs at Moran Market looks still far off. Without strong administrative measures and new development plans from the Seongnam government, it is unlikely that vendors would voluntarily stop such illegal acts.
The Seongnam government must immediately carry out the agreement by reaching a compromise with the vendors. They should also not put off improving the inhumane environment.
We are deeply concerned about the fact that the situation for the dogs at Moran Market has become worse. The dogs are shut up in narrower, less ventilated spaces with less light. While the humans bicker, the animals suffer.
The implementation of the agreement has been deeply disappointing so far, and by all indications, will not happen soon. Because of this, we will push for the complete cessation of both the slaughtering and selling of dog meat at Moran Market.