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SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Thursday the government will form a civilian-led consultative body to produce a social consensus on whether to ban dog meat consumption.
Kim made the remark while presiding over a government policy coordination meeting, saying relevant ministries should make active efforts to determine the facts and weigh diverse public opinions surrounding the controversial practice.
"We will form a joint private-government consultative body led by civilians and produce a social consensus," the prime minister said.
"The controversy over dog meat consumption is not new and has persisted for over 30 years since the 1988 Seoul Olympics," he continued.
"With the sharp increase in the number of households with pets and growing public interest in animal rights and animal welfare, we are witnessing increasing calls against viewing dog meat consumption as part of an old food culture."
The envisioned body, set to be launched next month, will comprise 20 experts, civic activists and government officials, who will have in-depth discussions on the matter by April next year, according to Kim's office.
The government also plans to form a separate vice ministerial-level entity in charge of devising action plans, while proactively collecting opinions from various relevant parties and conducting related research, it added.
Thursday's meeting came after President Moon Jae-in raised the need to "carefully look into banning dog meat consumption" during a meeting with Kim in September.
Animal rights activists have condemned the practice as cruel, while others have argued people should be free to choose what they eat.
Moon is known as a dog lover and lives with several dogs at the presidential compound.
Early this month, a Realmeter survey showed 48.9 percent of people were opposed to banning dog meat consumption by law, while 38.6 percent supported it.
South Korea's Animal Protection Law aims to prevent the cruel slaughter of dogs and cats, but it does not ban the consumption of dog meat.