South Korea slammed on Monday statements by Egyptian officials who suggested exporting stray dogs to the Asian country, describing the statements as displaying "major ignorance" about the country’s culture.
In an official press release, the South Korean embassy in Cairo responded to statements made in October by leading Egyptian MP Margaret Azer.
Azer had suggested that Egypt export stray dogs for meat consumption to countries like South Korea as a solution to the problem of stray dogs in Egypt.
Azer, the deputy of the human rights committee in parliament, told Ahram Online in a phone call following her controversial statements – which sparked anger by animal activists – that her suggestion was an alternative to “shooting dogs or castrating them.”
She said the idea of exporting the animals for consumption was made after “discussion with a few South Koreans,” and that this would be an investment opportunity for Egypt.
The embassy described the statements by Azer as defamatory of the South Korean people, and that the country has never imported dogs for meat consumption.
The statement added that the practice of eating dogs is declining in the country amid pressure from animal rights activists in South Korea.
“Eating dog meat is not part of the country’s popular food culture,” the statement said, urging the media not to publish news related to exporting stray dogs to the country.
Stray dogs and cats are common in Egypt, and many of the animals are often hit by cars or subjected to various forms of abuse.
The state has been attempting to find a solution in recent years, often resorting to killing the animals
The response from South Korea also comes nearly two weeks after a number of Egyptian officials claimed that the country would start exporting thousands of stray dogs and cats, without specifying which countries would be importing them. However, the agriculture ministry later released a statement denying the claims.
While there is no official data on the number of stray dogs in the country, Al-Watan newspaper said on Tuesday that the country is home to 22 million stray dogs, according to a study by Hamdy Arafa, a professor in local development and a consultancy expert on slums.