South Korea hints at banning dog meat

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in says there might be a need to prohibit dog meat consumption, amid debate over the controversial practice and growing awareness of animal rights.

A spokeswoman for Moon made the announcement on Monday.

It's the first time that Moon has raised a ban, which is likely to give fresh momentum to debate over whether to curtail the practice.

While no longer as common as before, dog meat is eaten mainly by older people.

It is served in some restaurants and can be bought at specific markets.

To boost their popularity, several presidential hopefuls have pledged to ban dog meat in recent weeks, especially as dogs have become popular as pets and advocacy groups have urged South Korea to close down restaurants and markets selling dog meat.

A poll released by animal welfare group Aware this month found that 78% of respondents believed the production and sale of dog and cat meat should be prohibited. 49% supported a consumption ban.

Another survey by polling firm Realmeter found people were divided over whether the government should ban eating dog meat, though 59% supported legal restrictions on dog slaughter for human consumption.

Dog meat sellers have insisted on the right to their occupation, saying their livelihoods are at risk.

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