South Korea seems to be the next country to improve the legal status of animals and would join 32 other countries that recognize animals as sentient beings. A change that is overdue for most pet lovers. Responsible for changing the legal definition of animals are the candidates for president in the upcoming elections.

The presedential candidates noticed that animals and their welfare gained great importance. With an increase from 5.91 million pet keeping households in 2019 to 6.38 million in 2020 the politicians acknowleged animal and pet protection policies being essential in South Korea.

The country’s Ministry of Justice has stated that the civil code will be modified in a way that would lift the animals status to individuals with the inherent right to proper protection. The current law like in most countries of the world regards animals as objects. As a consequence someone who abuses animals can only be charged for damaging property.

The upcoming change would add the phrase that animals are not objects. After passing the new law, other laws on animal abuse will be added.

South Korea’s Animal Protection Act, that is already implemented, defines animals as beings with “developed nervous systems through which they could feel pain,” such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The aim was to stop people from intentionally hurting animals, but the cases increased from 69 in 2010 to 914 in 2019.

In 2020 there were already passed pro-animal regulations such as:

Korea started to teach animal rights in schools. There was a special insurance program installed for owners of certain dogbreeds. A maximum three-year imprisonment for the death of an animal caused by human mistreatment.

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