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Opposing rallies mark 'dog meat day' in South Korea

American actress Kim Basinger, left, watches a pet dog during a rally to oppose eating dog meat in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 12, 2019. July 12 is the day South Koreans eat healthy foods such as dog meat in the belief it would help them survive heat during summer. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Dozens of people opposing dog meat consumption, including American actress Kim Basinger, rallied in Seoul on Friday to mark a “dog meat day” in South Korea.

About 20 others stood on the opposite side calling for a legalization of dog meat during a protest near the National Assembly building. There were no reports of violence.

Under a traditional belief, Friday is the first of three hottest days in South Korea. Many South Koreans believe eating dog meat or chicken soups on those three days gives them strength to beat the heat.

“They do not need your tears, they need your help,” Basinger said. “We have to end this cruelty on this planet. We have to help anything suffering, and these dogs and cats are suffering.”

The anti-dog meat protesters held placards that read “How Many Millions Have to Die Before Dog Meat Ends?” They also put mock dog carcasses on a table.

About 10 metres (33 feet) away from them were farmers who raise dogs that are sold to restaurants. They brought along steamed dog meat and ate it with kimchi.

Anti-dog meat rallies routinely take place on the three hottest days.

Dog meat is neither legal nor explicitly banned in South Korea. Dog meat restaurants are a dwindling business in South Korea in recent years as pets grow in popularity. A survey last year indicated that about 80% of South Koreans had never eaten dog meat in the past year.

But many people still oppose outlawing dog meat because they view it as surrendering to Western pressure.

The Associated Press