South Korea is launching a task force to consider outlawing dog meat consumption after the president offered to look into ending the practice.

However, according to Fox News Business, recent surveys show people oppose the dog meat ban even if many don’t eat it.

Seven government offices, including the Agriculture Ministry, decided to form the group, which will include officials, civilian experts, and people from related organizations, to provide suggestions on whether or not dog meat consumption should be banned.

According to the statement, authorities would gather information on dog farms, restaurants, and other facilities while examining public opinion.

The statement said “public awareness of their basic rights and animal rights issues are tangled in a complicated manner” when it comes to dog meat.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, “As the number of families with pet animals has risen rapidly and public interest in animal rights and welfare has grown in our country, there have been increasing voices saying that it’s difficult now to see dog meat consumption as just traditional food culture.”

Farmers claim the task force’s launch is merely an excuse to shut down their farms and dog meat restaurants, while activists believe the government’s announcement shows a lack of commitment to prohibit dog meat consumption.

In South Korea, between one million to 1.5 million dogs are killed for food each year. Thousands of farmers also currently raise 1 million to 2 million dogs for meat, according to Ju Yeongbong’s organization, general secretary of an association of dog farmers.

Mr Ju claimed that the farmers, who were primarily poor and elderly, wanted the government to legalize dog meat consumption for about 20 years, with the hope that demand would gradually decrease.

However, Lee Won Bok, head of the Korea Association for Animal Protection said “South Korea is the only developed country where people eat dogs, an act that is undermining our international image,” Lee added. “Even if the K-pop band BTS and the (Korean drama) Squid Game are ranked No. 1 in the world, foreigners are still associating South Korea with dog meat and the Korean War.”

Dog meat is now neither legal nor officially banned in South Korea.

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