The proposed bill may be named after the country’s first lady, who campaigned to end the controversial practice FILE PHOTO: South Korean animal rights activists confine themselves in cages during a campaign opposing South Korea’s culture of eating dog meat in Seoul, August 11, 2017 © AP / Ahn Young-joon

South Korean lawmakers are planning to introduce a legislation aimed at prohibiting the sale and consumption of dog meat, a controversial centuries-old custom which is neither explicitly banned nor legalized at the moment.

According to the media reports, the act was proposed by the main opposition Democratic Party on Thursday and immediately drew support from the ruling People Power Party, which would bring enough votes to pass the bill.

“About 10 million South Korean households raise pets. Now is the time to put an end to dog eating,” the head of the ruling party’s policy committee, Park Dae-chul, said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Park, who is also the party’s chief policymaker, used the term “Kim Keon Hee’s bill,” referring to the first lady, Kim Keon Hee, who has been campaigning to end the country’s practice of eating dog meat. The naming, however, sparked criticism even from some fellow party members, who described it as “not pure” and accused Park of fawning over the president.

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The first lady has been openly supporting a ban on all types of dog meat trade and consumption. Last month she urged the National Assembly to legislate a law to put an end to the country’s contentious culture and promised to “campaign and make efforts to bring an end to dog meat consumption.”

“Humans and animals should coexist,” she said at a press conference hosted by a civic group in late August, adding that “Illegal dog meat activities should be put to an end.”

Dog meat consumption, a centuries-old custom on the Korean Peninsula. Over the last few years, the public has turned away from eating canine meat amid the public awareness of animal rights and concerns over South Korea’s international image.

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In recent years, the number of farms across South Korea has dropped by half, but still some 700,000 to a million dogs are being slaughtered each year, which is a decline from several millions a decade ago, according to the dog farmer’s association.

Previous attempts by the government to outlaw the dog meat industry altogether, were opposed by the dog farmers and restaurant owners for the fear of losing their livelihood. The farmers argue that dogs bred for their meat are different from pets. (RT)