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Korea to consider animals not ‘things’

Pet owners at the 2021 K-Pet Fair Seoul held at Coex in Gangnam, Seoul, look at pet products on Aug. 6. (Yonhap)
Pet owners at the 2021 K-Pet Fair Seoul held at Coex in Gangnam, Seoul, look at pet products on Aug. 6. (Yonhap)

The Ministry of Justice made a pre-announcement of legislation Thursday to revise the Civil Act to introduce the clause to declare “Animals are not things.”

As the number of households with companion animals has increased significantly over recent years in Korean society, there is widespread social consensus that animals should be more protected and cared for as living creatures. There are also growing concerns about animal cruelty and animal abandonment.

The rationale behind insufficient punishments for animal harm is because animals are treated as “things” under the legal system.

“With the new clause taking effect, the level of punishment for animal cruelty and compensation for animal harm would be adjusted in a way that satisfies the public awareness in the long-term perspective,” the ministry spokesperson said.

“It is also expected that additional creative laws and policies to protect animals and respect lives would be proposed taking advantage of the clause.”

Considering the status of the Civil Act, which is the fundamental law of the private legal system, this new legislation would not only strengthen animal protection, but also facilitate a society in which lives are highly protected and respected, according to the ministry.

“The ministry will pay close attention to the people’s voices about this legislation through various channels during the pre-announcement period and exert its fullest efforts so that the amendment is passed at the National Assembly,” the spokesperson said.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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