(ATTN: ADDS details in last 4 paras)
SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in raised the need Monday for the government to consider imposing a formal ban on dog meat consumption in South Korea.
"Hasn't the time come to prudently consider prohibiting dog meat consumption?" Moon told Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum during their weekly policy consultation session, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.
The president made the remarks while being briefed by the prime minister on the government's plan to improve the system to take care of abandoned pets, she said.
The spokesperson provided no further details on Moon's remarks in a brief press statement.
A growing number of South Koreans live with dogs at home, but there are dog farms still in operation, where some dog breeds are raised for food.
Moon is known as a dog lover, living with several dogs at the presidential compound.
South Korea has the Animal Protection Law intended mainly to prevent the cruel slaughter of dogs and cats but not dog consumption itself.
Civic groups, meanwhile, were divided over Moon's latest remarks, which sparked yet another round of debate over one of the most disputed issues in South Korea.
"A growing number of South Koreans are considering the consumption of dog meat as a matter of animal abuse rather than tradition," said Jeon Jin-kyung, who heads the Korea Animal Rights Advocates, welcoming Moon's statement.
Advocates of dog meat claimed that the people should also have freedom to choose what they eat.
"Dogs that are raised for consumption weigh from 35 kilograms to up to 80 kilograms. They are completely distinctive types of breeds raised in a different environment compared to pets," said Cho Hwan-ro, who represents a local group of dog farmers.
N. Korean leader Kim ramps up nuclear threat, alludes to more aggressive doctrine
ICBM launch puts Yoon's N. Korea policy to test
Concerns grow over possible North Korean nuke test
N. Korea's ICBM launch marks sad coda to Moon's peace drive, challenge for successor Yoon
(News Focus) Relocation of presidential office emerges as hot button issue