SEOUL — The South Korean government’s moves toward regulating the dog meat industry have people on both sides of the issue foaming at the mouth.

Last week, the South Korean cabinet announced it would draw up rules prohibiting the “brutal slaughter” of dogs for food and push laws that set guidelines on hygienic processing and sale of dog meat.

The moves are seen in South Korea as an attempt to police an industry that — while drawing international scorn — is a tradition in many parts of Korean culture.

“To legalize the dog meat trade, the law on livestock slaughtering should be revised to include dogs,” the Korea Times quoted an unnamed senior government official as saying.

“But last week’s decision is only intended at thoroughly controlling the hygiene standard of dog meat, which is considered as food in reality.”

While South Korea has laws against several methods of killing dogs, it doesn’t outlaw dog meat sale or consumption. The issue flared during the 2002 World Cup, when soccer’s international governing body called on South Korea to stop the practice.

The last time that had happened was during the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Dog meat, particularly a dog meat soup called Boshintang, is considered by many to improve strength and virility, and generally is sought out during the summer months.

Animal-rights groups reacted swiftly to the government’s move to regulate the trade.

“Setting a hygiene standard on dog meat means nothing but legalizing the dog meat industry,” the Korea Animal Protection Society stated in a news release.

“We cannot believe the government is moving to legalize the dog-eating practice of some Koreans, which is not only harmful for national interests but also disgraceful and reproachable.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now