Dozens of people opposed to dog meat consumption, including American actress Kim Basinger, rallied near the National Assembly in Seoul on one of three “dog meat days” in South Korea.
The organisers, Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), picked Friday for their protest because July 12 is considered one of the three hottest days of the year according to the traditional Korean
Many Koreans eat dog meat specifically on this day, as well as chicken soup, in the belief that it helps them best withstand the heat.
“They do not need your tears, they need your help,” Basinger said of the dogs. “We have to end this cruelty on this planet. We have to help anything suffering. It is tradition, but it is against the rights of animals.”
The protesters held placards that read “How Many Millions Have to Die Before Dog Meat Ends?”
They also put mock dog carcasses on a table.
Last year, member of South Korea’s ruling party Chang-won proposed an amendment to the Animal Protection Act preventing slaughter of the animals that are not specified as livestock, including dogs and cats, reported the Korea Times.
The bill is yet to be pased and rights group claim it has caused slaughter of over a million dogs.
Members of Korea’s dog meat association held a counter demonstration nearby, calling for the legalisation of dog meat.
The counter-protesters included farmers who raise dogs that are sold to restaurants brought steamed dog meat and ate it with kimchi.
Dog meat is neither legal nor explicitly banned in South Korea. Dog meat restaurants are a dwindling business as younger people find dog meat a less attractive dining option.
Pets are growing in popularity, and a survey last year indicated that about 80 percent of South Koreans had not eaten dog meat in the previous year.
Many people still oppose outlawing dog meat because they view it as surrendering to Western pressure.
Some older people believe that dog meat enhances sexual stamina.
Several dogs that were bred to be eaten but were then rescued from the breeding facilities were brought to the demonstration.
Korean Dogs: Friend or Food? | 101 East
Al Jazeera and news agencies