When Nami heard another auction house in Paju City, she started to move forward meeting with the City and the officials at the Ministry of National Defense. The land belongs to them.
Nami went ahead with the protest right in front of the auction house demanding the land should not be used to dog auction. The media came but the auction people would not let these people get inside.
This is the very first article by Weekly Chosun that was published April the 5th.
Here is the translation of the article by Helen Lee, one of our US board members.
April 5, 2021
Controversy over the illegal meat dog auction house occupying a land owned by the Ministry of National Defense.
Paju reporter Sungjin Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inside the dog auction house located in Gemsan-dong, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do,
controversy is brewing over a large-scale auction of meat dogs on a site owned by the Ministry of National Defense, which has been illegal for years. The auction house continues to operate after unauthorized occupation of the land of the Ministry of National Defense, violating the Building Act, Land Act, and Livestock Manure Act. Critics say that the Ministry of National Defense, the landowner, imposes only a minor fine, which is practically letting them go. It serves as a ‘platform’ for dog meat trade.
The auction site for buying and selling meat dogs for food is located near the military base training ground in Geomsan-dong, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do. Only warning signs, barricades, and military vehicles that prohibit civilian access are noticeable around the area. It is not easy to find civilians there. The area began to hear the barking of “dogs” when a meat dog auction house with a dark green building was built between military training grounds in May 2019. The auction house does not seem to have any major problems at first glance, but so far, there are several related laws that have been violated. It is becoming a headache among the government offices in the jurisdictions.
On March 30, 2021, the auction house was busy preparing for the auction as usual. Access was only allowed for members with permission, so I couldn’t look inside, but at first glance, several dogs were trapped in a floating cage and stretched out. Some of the dogs were carried tangled together on a stretcher. “We don’t breed dogs ourselves,” an official at the auction house said. “We just help those who come to sell or buy dogs and we help their trade.”
The dog auction starts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12 p.m. For this reason, there are many trucks heading to the auction house with empty floating cages around 11 a.m. Among them, many vehicles covered their license plates. Until early this year, the auction was held at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but changed the day and time to avoid resistance from animal protection groups. The number of people gathering here averages about 50 a day. An official from Paju Police Station said that sometimes they buy and sell as many as 500 to 600 dogs.
Meat dogs are traded for as little as 100,000 won ($90) to as much as 400,000 to 500,000 won ($450) per animal. One breeder says, 30 large dogs are sold for 10 million won ($9,000). The commission earned by the auction house team is around 6%. In June of last year, the management team also announced the following to the SNS room where the dog merchants participated.
“As for the auction procedure, if the seller brings it before 1:30 pm on the auction day, the auction will be conducted based on the muscle mass and meat quality. After auction proceeding, the money will be given or deposited to the seller, excluding the 6% commission of the auction price.” The auction team receives an additional 100,000 won ($90) for helping the delivery of dogs for customers who did not visit the site in person.
As the trade in meat dogs is carried out on a large scale, there are many complaints from nearby residents. “When I go to work at 7 a.m., I smell dog feces as well as scorching,” said an official at a paper company adjacent to the auction house. There is also dirty water around the stream. In the past, the company next door said they would report it, and the auction house owner threatened to set it on fire.
The auction house is being criticized by the government offices in charge of violating various laws. In particular, the fact that it operates the auction house on the site owned by the Ministry of National Defense is considered to be the biggest problem. The auction house covers about 991 square meters (300 pyeong), of which 297 square meters (89 pyeong) are owned by the Ministry of National Defense. The Ministry of National Defense ordered the removal of some facilities, including some livestock houses in 2019, and even imposed a compensation of 7.60 million won ($6,900) in January 2020. In March of this year, after imposing an additional compensation of 1,986,500 won ($1800), the MND requested them of restoration and return. If this is not implemented by April 15th, the MND plans to take administrative measure.
The compensation imposed by the Ministry of National Defense so far is far lower than the profits of auctioneers. There has been no other action except imposing compensation for the two years since it began operations. Animal protection groups predict that the Ministry of National Defense will continue to respond only at a perfunctory level in the future. The auction house has not yet paid all the compensation that was imposed last year.
The other lands they occupied are farmland, and there were no procedures such as obtaining a building permit or changing the land title. Nami Kim, CEO of Save Korean Dogs, pointed out, “It is the same fraud as LH employees used, who have become a problem recently because non-farmers buy farmland and speculate.” Paju City Hall is still discussing alternatives with the Ministry of National Defense after prosecuting them for violations of the Building Law, Farmland Law, Livestock Manure Law, and Livestock Law.
Animal protection activists are protesting against trucks entering and leaving the auction site.
The grounds for sanctions are ambiguous.
Related organizations say that these operations cannot be considered illegal. Under the current Livestock Act law, dogs are treated as livestock, but the Livestock Sanitation Control Act does not treat dogs as livestock. The Sanitation Control Act regulates matters concerning the breeding, slaughter, disposal of livestock and processing, distribution of livestock products. “There is no basis for sanctions related to dog sales because dogs are not subject to the Sanitation Control Act,” said Chae Il-taek, head of the policy team at the Korea Animal Freedom Association. “The sale of dogs is actually in the blind spot.”
Dogs are not even covered in the Food Code, which lists food standards under the Food Sanitation Act. For this reason, Chae explained that even though dog meat sales to consumers may be sanctioned, it is difficult to sanction sales to retailers at auction centers. An official at Paju City Hall said, “It is also difficult to sanction them for violating the Animal Protection Act. This is because it is realistically difficult to secure the situation of abuse. “The National Assembly should make legislative overhaul, or the Ministry of National Defense, the landowner should clean it out responsibly.” he said.
This is not the first time that this auction house operator has done this. In the Green Belt in Ilpa-dong, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, they operated a 2100-square-meter (635-pyeong) auction house, which was larger than this, and received administrative measures from local governments for violating various related laws. Kim said, “It seems that the Paju auction house has been in operation with the Namyangju auction house together or the owners have taken over this place as the Namyangju auction house closed. What is certain is that they are focusing on operating the auction house in Gemsan-dong, Paju, as the auction house on Namyangju’s side collapsed.” The demolition of the dog auction house located in Namyangju City, came only after Namyangju Mayor Cho Kwang-han took measures to shut it down in January this year. The auction house had been in operation for more than 10 years.
Currently, animal protection groups hold a rally in front of the auction house in Paju-si, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when the auction is held, holding pickets with a sign saying, ‘Wake up, Cho Jong-hwan, Paju Mayor’. In the process, there are many struggles between the auction house operators and the merchants entering and exiting.
An official at the auction house said, “I don’t know why dog sales are a problem. We’re doing this business to live. We also paid reimbursement money to the Ministry of Defense. The rally of animal protection groups is an obstruction of our business. We also accuse them of insults.” he said.
At the entrance of the auction house, they hung banners denouncing animal protection groups and continue to counter-protest against them. Banners say ‘Animal protection groups– guarantee our right to survive’, ‘Humans are priority before animal protection’, ‘Distinguish between edible and pet dogs’, ‘Dismantle the panhandler animal organizations.’