The largest dog slaughterhouse in South Korea has been shut down - with animal advocates branding the move a 'landmark moment in the demise of the country’s brutal dog meat trade'.
Seongnam City Council closed down Taepyeong, planning to turn the space where hundreds of thousands of dogs a year were once killed, into a community park.
Humane Society International/Korea, Korea Animal Rights Advocates and the Korean Animal Welfare Association attended the closure to 'witness the historic event'.
"Both as a Korean citizen and an animal campaigner, it was incredibly moving for me to a part of the historic closure of this notorious dog slaughterhouse," said Nara Kim, HSI/Korea's Dog Meat Campaigner.
"I shudder to think how many millions of beautiful dogs will have met their horrific fate at this place over the years. It was a stain on the city of Seongnam and we are so pleased to see it bulldozed.
"This really feels like a landmark moment in the demise of the dog meat industry in South Korea, and sends the clear message that the dog meat industry is increasingly unwelcome in Korean society."
"We have been making constant efforts to shut down the Taepyeong-dong dog slaughterhouse through investigations and putting pressure on Gyeonggi province and Seongnam-si," added Hyunji Kim of Korea Animal Rights Advocates.
"As Korea's biggest, brutal, illegal dog slaughterhouse, Taepyeong-dong is notorious for supplying huge amounts of dog bodies to nearby Seongnam Moran traditional market. Its closure is an historical event, and hopefully may trigger the closure of other illegal dog slaughterhouses throughout the country.
"Until we achieve this, we really appreciate the support of both Korean people and global citizens who love animals for helping our campaigns to completely end dog meat in Korea."
Taepyeong comprises six individual slaughterhouses, five of which will be bulldozed immediately; permission to destroy the sixth building was not secured in time for the closure, however all its cages will be destroyed and equipment removed so that it is no longer operational according to HSI.
"In addition to the closure of the slaughterhouses, the operation will culminate in the closure of the last remaining 'bricks & mortar' vendor selling live dogs at Moran Market," the organization adds.
Moran was once the largest dog meat market in South Korea, but in recent times the number of dog meat shops has decreased due to closure efforts by local authorities. Although pop-up market stalls selling dog meat can still be seen at Moran, the closure of the final permanent vendor selling live dogs at the site represents a major victory in dismantling the once infamous dog meat market.
Dog meat consumption
The closure of Taepyeong comes as dog meat consumption is declining rapidly in South Korea - particularly among younger people.
HSI cites a survey by Gallup Korea conducted in June 2018, which shows that 70 percent of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in future. A number of recent legislative moves reflect the growing social unease with the trade.
In April this year, a farmer was fined for slaughtering dogs, with Incheon District Court in Bucheon ruling that meat consumption was not a legal justification to kill dogs. This was followed by an August announcement that there will be no more dog slaughterhouses at Kyungdong Market in Dongdaemun from next year.
Significantly, during the same month, President Moon Jae-In's Blue House pledged to consider removing dogs and cats from the legal definition of livestock.
'Collapse of the dog meat trade'
Korea Animal Welfare Association has campaigned against the dog meat trade for many years.
KAWA's Iltaek Chae, said: "The slaughterers in Taepyeong have long been accumulating their wealth and a huge number of dogs have been killed over the years.
"It is hoped that the closure of this horrific dog slaughterhouse can halt the suffering of more dogs in the future, and help trigger the collapse of the dog meat industry in Korea."