Kim Basinger calls for dog meat ban in South Korea: ‘The world is watching’

Kim Basinger has called for an end to the dog meat trade in South Korea as a government task force deliberates whether to introduce a ban.

In a passionate editorial published by The Korean daily On Monday, the 68-year-old Hollywood actress wrote about her visit to South Korea in 2019, during which she protested the treatment of dogs in the country’s meat industry.

Basinger also pointed out that President Yoon Suk-yeol is an “animal lover”, who has four dogs and three cats living in the house he shares with his wife, Kim Keon-hee. She thanked the couple for talking about the dog meat trade.

“Korea was and still is the only country in the world that deliberately breeds dogs for meat consumption,” Basinger wrote in his op-ed. “Yes, Indonesia, China and Vietnam also have dog meat businesses, but none have large-scale dog farms.

“South Korea is a very beautiful and progressive country, and from my last visit and the many conversations I had, I believe that as a people, Koreans no longer want to be recognized as the only country to the world that breeds dogs for human consumption.”

Kim Basinger on October 19, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California and to protest the dog meat trade on July 17, 2018 in Los Angeles. Basinger wrote an op-ed calling for an end to the dog meat trade in South Korea.
gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

According to Humane Society International/Koreaopinion polls conducted in 2020 showed that nearly 84% of South Koreans do not consume dog meat, while nearly 60% favor a total ban.

While Ireland Baldwin’s mother Basinger spoke out against the trade in her op-ed, the movie star also noted that it could be seen as condemning another culture.

“I understand and really appreciate that this is a cultural issue,” she wrote. “Koreans have been eating dog meat for a long time, and because of the importance of cows in agriculture, Koreans traditionally consider cows, rather than dogs, to be man’s best friend.

“In fact, the beef and dairy industries were not introduced into Korean culture until the 20th century. Before that, beef was a rarity and milk was for calves, leaving dogs as the main source of food. animal protein for many Koreans.”

Basinger further said that activist groups Animal Liberation Wave (ALW) and Last Chance for Animals (LCA) will soon raise awareness in Seoul around Boknal, the three hottest days of summer when some Koreans eat meat from dog in the belief that it will help them cool down.

“Their purpose will not be to judge Korean culture, rather the opposite,” Basinger said of the activist groups. “Instead, ALW and LCA’s efforts this year will highlight the rise of the animal rights movement in Korea that is leading to monumental change. With LCA, I have so much respect for South Korea and his people.”

Kim Basinger demonstrates in South Korea
Kim Basinger and animal rights activists hold portraits of dead dogs during a protest against the dog meat trade in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea on July 12, 2019. The movie star has long spoken out against cruelty to animals.
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

“Korea has always been a leader in fashion, beauty, film, television, music and cuisine,” she continued. “Since the last time I was there, BTS has cemented their place as the biggest band on the planet, squid game the most-watched series on Netflix, and Park Chan-wook the best director at Cannes.

“Korea was once one of the poorest countries in the world, scarred by war. But in my own lifetime, it has become one of the richest countries on the planet, with the tenth largest economy of the world.

“Gandhi said that ‘the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated’. In many ways, Korea is great, progressive and now dominates the world.

“A light has been shining on South Korea for a long time. Now could not be a better time for Korea to take this step and become an example for all other countries on the planet – this abandonment of past traditions in the name of humanity and compassion gives a nation strength, not weakness.

“Korea has a unique chance to make a statement to the world by proving that a centuries-old tradition of eating dogs can be abandoned as a nation progresses. Seongnam dogs, I have reason to believe that Korea will soon achieve this feat.”

LA Confidential Star Basinger went on to say that ending trade seems to be an issue that unites people from all political walks of life in South Korea.

“Three years ago, I met with then-Governor Lee Jae-myung to thank him for his decision to crack down on dog slaughterhouses in Gyeonggi Province,” she wrote. “In the last presidential election, he promised to end the dog meat trade once and for all. I was hopeful, given his record.

“But it turns out that Lee’s opponent and now President Yoon Suk-yeol is no less an animal lover. He lives with four dogs and three cats. In addition, First Lady Kim Keon-hee has very clear: “The problem of the dog meat trade can be solved by policies such as supporting the transition of the livelihoods of people in the industry… A universal culture should be shared between countries developed because it can create negative sentiment against South Korea.

“Liberals and conservatives in Korea seem to be in agreement, and every day there is growing public support for banning the dog meat trade. It’s time for Korea to finally make the big transition.”

Basinger added that she hopes to make another trip to South Korea “soon” to “support President Yoon and First Lady Kim’s stance on the dog meat trade. I want to meet with them to thank them and say they are not alone.

Dogs bred for meat

“The world is watching. Perhaps the country that produces many of the best music, movies and TV shows today will also prove to be the best in its treatment of animals,” she concluded.

According Korea timeYoon, who took office in May, sparked controversy during his run for president when he suggested during a debate last year that there was a difference between dogs bred for meat and those living as pets.

“I am personally opposed to eating dog meat, he reportedly said. “But the implementation of related government policies would require social consensus.”

“Consuming dog meat is not an animal abuse issue because meat dogs are raised in a different environment than companion dogs,” he reportedly added.

Speak Humane Society International, South Korea has set up a working group to deliberate on banning the dog meat industry. Its recommendations are expected to be published this summer.