Puppy Mills and Dog Meat in Korea

Exploring the complexities of puppy mills in Korea, this blog delves into their role in dog meat consumption, the historical context, legal ambiguities, and the critical need for clearer insights into their operations.

Puppy Mills and Dog Meat in Korea

Puppy mills, often misconceived merely as dog farms, are facilities with a primary focus on breeding dogs. Unlike similar establishments in many other countries, where the objective is to breed pets for sale, some dogs in Korea are bred for a more controversial purpose: dog meat consumption.

At Team Tsunfur, our aim is not to debate the ethics of consuming dog meat compared to other animals. Our focus is on shedding light on the conditions within puppy mills in Korea, exploring the historical context, legal ambiguities, and the pressing need for transparency regarding these operations.

Puppies in a dog farm cramped
Dogs are seen in cramped, unsanitary cages at a puppy farm in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, in this photo taken in September 2023. About 1,400 canines were found at the facility, according to local animal rights group WEACT. Courtesy of WEACT

Historical Background: A Cultural Debate

The consumption of dog meat in Korea is a subject of considerable debate, centered around its cultural significance. Advocates for considering it part of Korean heritage often cite records dating back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), suggesting a tradition passed down through generations. However, there is a counterargument that this practice was historically associated with periods of poverty, where people had no choice but to consume dog meat. This view is supported by the absence of dog meat from ancestral rites, indicating its perceived lower status. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that dog meat consumption saw a significant increase during the Japanese occupation, linked to food shortages.

Legal Framework and Current Situation

Following Korea's liberation in 1945, the government officially recognized dog meat as a livestock product under the Livestock Products Processing Act, a status that remained until 1978. The law was then revised to exclude dog meat, prompted by opposition from animal rights groups and international criticism. However, this change did not address the underlying legal foundation for dog farming for human consumption, leaving the industry in a legal gray area. This ambiguity persisted until the recent passing of the ‘Special Act on Ending the Breeding, Slaughter, and Distribution of Dogs for Food Purposes’ on January 9th, 2024, which is set to take effect in 2027 following a three-year grace period.

A bad condition illegal Puppy Mill, where dogs are living in horrible and dirty conditions.
Illegal breeding facility. Courtesy of TBT Rescue Instagram

The Significance of Visualizing Puppy Mill Data

The long-standing legal uncertainties have led to the proliferation of unregulated and often illegal puppy mills. The conditions in these establishments are typically far below those in regulated livestock farms, with little to no accountability for the welfare of the dogs. The Korean government's call for farmers to take responsibility comes against a backdrop of numerous operations that remain outside legal oversight, risking poor treatment or euthanasia of dogs. Without comprehensive data on the scale and distribution of puppy mills, effective intervention and support remain challenging, highlighting the crucial need for transparency in this area.


As we embark on this journey to bring awareness to the issues surrounding puppy mills in Korea, Team Tsunfur invites you to join us in understanding and addressing this complex problem. It's not merely a question of cultural practice but of ensuring humane treatment and legal clarity for all beings involved. Together, we can advocate for a future where the welfare of dogs in Korea is safeguarded with compassion and integrity.

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