The Seongnam City Government has begun the process to remove butchery facilities from South Korea’s largest dog meat market, two months after it decided to ban the slaughter of dogs and display of live dogs in cages there.
Empty cages are lined up to be removed from dog meat shops at Moran Market in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
Kim Yong-buk, a member of the vendors’ association speaking for 22 dog meat dealers, told reporters Monday that vendors agree with the city government’s decision to refurbish the area.
“Following several rounds of talks with the city government, we decided to voluntarily remove dog slaughter facilities in the market to abolish the slaughter of dogs here,” Kim said.
But he was soon interrupted by a group of vendors who yelled at him, saying, “You are such a traitor! What about others who want to continue with the dog meat business? We have yet to receive complete compensation from the government!”
The decision was announced in December by the Seongnam City Government and an association of the vendors at Moran Market, which represents 22 dog meat dealers, among others.
According to their agreement, the dog meat vendors were to start removing slaughter facilities and dog cages this week and complete the process by early May, in a move officials described as a step toward ending the animal welfare controversy over the industry.
Moran Market, which opened in the 1960s and sells everything from live animals to antiques, has seen at least 80,000 dogs sold either dead or alive each year. It supplies one-third of all dog meat consumed in the country. Live dogs are kept in cages for customers to choose. They are then slaughtered at the market in plain sight.
Dog meat vendors have been under attack from animal rights groups around the world for their use of brutal methods to slaughter dogs, including electrocution, hanging and beating.
Seven of the 22 vendors who signed an agreement with the city government have since changed their minds and are now against the removal. They are urging the city government to provide due compensation and support the relocation of their shops to continue their business.
“We cannot agree with the measures and support provided by the city government. We will see a tremendous amount of profit loss when we are forced to ban dog slaughtering here,” said Shin Seung-cheol.
“Almost 80 percent of our customers visit our shops to buy fresh dog meat, what are going to do if we cannot provide it for them? Is the government going to pay us?” Shin asked.
Dogs on sale to be slaughtered and consumed are seen in a cage at Moran Market in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
The city said in an agreement signed in early December that it would provide financial support for vendors to refurbish their shops for new businesses. The agreement came as part of the city’s project to remodel the traditional, open-air market.
Vendors were also divided regarding the issue of looking for a new type of business.
“Can you eat food with your left hand when you were a right-handed person for your entire life? It is total nonsense that the city government is asking us to find a new business,” said a vendor who has been trading dog meat for the past 30 years at Moran market.
According to the vendors’ association, 10 of 22 dog meat dealers have already decided that they will go into a different business.
“But those who changed their business are the rich ones, who already raked in money from the dog meat trading business. We, poor tenants from our shops in our part of the market, do not have enough money to find a new business,” someone among the rest of the vendors said.
The city government said they would push ahead with a plan based on the agreement they made with vendors in December.
“Nothing will change, we will continue to talk with vendors who oppose, but there will be no change in the amount of the government support,” Seongnam City official Kang Won-gu told The Korea Herald.
“All we can do for now is to persuade vendors and continue to crack down on illegal dog slaughtering,” added Kang.
Sign boards, slaughter facilities and dog cages are removed from the dog meat shops in Moran Market in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
With no laws being passed to completely make illegal the sale of dog meat so far, butchery, farming and the consumption of dog meat have continued to thrive in a legal gray area.
South Korea’s Livestock Product Sanitary Control Act, which governs the slaughter and disposal of livestock and the processing, distribution and inspection of livestock products, does not categorize dogs as livestock that can be processed as food.
The Korea Herald by Herald Corporation
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