Pets are property? Top court reviews pets' legal status
The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing a civil code article that designates animals as property. It is expected to reach a decision later this month.
The code classifies animals as objects without any basic rights or interests granted to human beings.
Care, an animal rights group, said this classification has led to unjust rulings in cases involving animal abuse. The group filed the case with the court last June.
Since pets are considered property, their owners or people who commit violence against them only face fines of up to what the animals are worth on the market.
"Due to the legal perception of animals as objects, past court verdicts of animal abuse only led people to face light punishment," Park So-youn, head of Care, told The Korea Times.
"Instead of reviewing animal abuse cases as those between a perpetrator and victim, these are only seen as something between a human and an object."
One such case happened in 2015, where a man killed his neighbor's ten-year-old dog with a metal pipe. He was indicted for "destroying his neighbor's property" and fined 2 million won ($1,800).
Care argued this legal definition of animals violates the Korean Constitution by encroaching on the people's basic right to pursue happiness, particularly pet owners.
"Pet owners have the right not to tolerate injury or death of their animals by another person," the group said. "People in general have the right not to feel revulsion from animal cruelty."
As of last year, the number of pets in the country reached about 10 million _ one-fifth of the human population _ amid the rise in single-person households.
1.civil code - is a systematic collection of laws designed to deal with the core areas of private lawsuch as for dealing with business and negligence lawsuits and practices
2. verdict - decision on a disputed issue in a civil or criminal case or an inquest
3. revulsion -a sense of disgust and loathing
1. Illustrate how the civil code article designate pets.
2. How does this designation influence the people's treatment of animals especially pets?
3. Detail the incident that involved ten-year-old dog in 2015. What can you say about the verdict on the case?
4. Why do you think there is an increase in the number of pets in Korea?
5. What kind of punishments do you think are more justifiable in penalizing animal abusers?