Opposing Rallies Mark 'Dog Meat Day' in South Korea

South Korean animal rights activists hold banners during a protest against the dog meat trade in front of the National Assembly in Seoul

South Korean animal rights activists hold banners during a protest against the dog meat trade in front of the National Assembly in Seoul

Dozens of policemen separate these two sharply contrasting faces of South Korea - evocative images of a decades-old practice of farming dogs for human consumption.

Wearing headbands saying "Fight!"

South Korean animal rights activists hold placards during a protest against the dog meat trade in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on July 12, 2019.

But consumption has declined as the nation embraces the idea of dogs as pets instead of livestock, with slaughterhouses closing and pressure mounting from activists - at home and overseas - to ban eating the animals altogether.

Last year, member of South Korea's ruling party Chang-won proposed an amendment to the Animal Protection Act preventing the slaughter of the animals that are not specified as livestock, including dogs and cats, reported the Korea Times.

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But the farmers, who oppose legal measures now tangled up in the courts to make killing pooches for meat illegal, were doggedly stating their case.

They also put mock dog carcasses on a table.

The demonstrators ate dog meat as part of Chobok celebrations; a Korean festival celebrating one of the hottest days of the lunar calendar year, when it is traditional to eat dog meat. Many South Koreans believe that eating dog meat or chicken soup on those days gives them strength to beat the heat.

Members of the Korean Dog Meat Association eat dog meat during a rally to support eating the meat in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 12, 2019.

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