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Election candidates seek to win votes from pet owners

April 2, 2024 - 15:54 By Jung Min-kyung
Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Kim Byung-wook, a candidate for the Bundang-B constituency, pledges to launch new pet-friendly facilities in a campaign poster for the April 10 general election. (Courtesy of Kim's office)

Several candidates running for the April 10 general election have rolled out pledges to attract votes from pet owners in recent weeks, including tax benefits and setting up pet-friendly systems and facilities.

Main opposition Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Kim Byung-wook, who is running for the Bundang-B constituency -- one of the two constituencies in the Bundang district located in Seoul's satellite city of Seongnam -- sees pet owners as key voters.

Kim pledged to build a budget pet hotel and a district-run veterinary clinic to cater to the pet owners in the area.

"The number of pet owners in South Korea has already surpassed 15 million, which accounts for some 30 percent of the total population," Kim said on March 30.

"My pledges aim to resolve difficulties that pet owners face (in the Bundang area)," he added.

Former Mayor of Haeundae Hong soon-heon, another Democratic Party candidate who is running in the Haeundae-A constituency in Busan, recently pledged to draft a bill to set up a government-standardized price on veterinary visits and check-ups.

Pet owners across the country have been calling for a standardized price on veterinary check-ups, with the price varying widely among different veterinary practices in some areas.

Meanwhile, the ruling People Power Party Rep. Eom Tae-young, set to compete in the cities of Jecheon and Danyang, a single constituency in North Chungcheong Province, said he plans to greenlight the construction of a dog park in Jecheon if elected.

A fellow People Power Party representative and attorney Ko Seok, running for Yongin-C constituency in Seoul's satellite city of Yongin, vowed to launch a city-run mobile app that could help pet owners find caretakers in the area.

Yoon Jun-ho, a Democratic Party candidate seeking to represent the Haeundae-B constituency, pledged to launch tax benefits for pet owners, which would see them receive a portion of their veterinary bill back through year-end tax settlements.

The pet-orientated pledges ahead of the election come as pet ownership in South Korea has climbed over the years, with an estimated 15 million people, or 1 in 4 Koreans, owning a pet as of end-2021, according to data by KB Financial Group in 2022.