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There is currently no ban on dog meat, but a court in Bucheon decided that a dog farm operator had 'killed animals without proper reasons' in the operation of his business, reports the Daily Mail.
The court declared that dogs could not be killed for their meat and fined the dog farm operator three million in South Korean won (£2,000 / $2,700).
The case had been brought by an animal rights group in Korea who accused the dog farm owner of killing dogs, as well as other health and safety and building violations.
Koreans are thought to eat around a million dogs a year and is considered to be part of a centuries-old cultural tradition, though there have been increasing protests in recent years from animal rights groups.
Fewer and fewer people have been consuming dog and younger generations are more likely to see dogs as pets rather than food.
International events in Korea have often been overshadowed by the killing of dogs, with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang earlier this year drawing international attention to the practice.
"It is very significant in that it is the first court decision that killing dogs for dog meat is illegal itself," said Kim Kyung-eun, a lawyer with Care, an NGO that fights against the consumption of dogs.
The ruling 'paved the way for outlawing dog meat consumption entirely', according to Ms Kim.
Care leader Park So-youn added: "Over the past decades, public discourse over dog meat consumption has shifted towards banning it.
"The dog meat industry will take greater heat because of the court ruling."
The ruling was not met with complete approval. Cho Hwan-ro, a spokesperson for the association of dog farms, said that the technicalities of the decision were problematic.
"This is outrageous. We can't accept the ruling that killing of dogs for dog meat consumption amounts to killing animals on a whim," he said.
Mr Cho said that there were 17,000 dog farms in South Korea ,and that the government should look to legalise dog meat consumption specifically and issue licences to dog abattoirs.
"Dogs for eating and dogs as pets must be separated. Cows, pigs, chickens and ducks are all raised to be consumed and why not dogs?" he added.
Featured Image Credit: NBC
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