The government has announced that South Korea will impose tougher penalties including possible prison terms for cruelty to animals following a highly publicized case.
Under a revision to the animal protection law, people who mistreat pets will face a jail term of up to one year or a maximum fine of 10 million won ($9,400), the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.
AdvertisementThe current penalty allows only a maximum fine of five million won.
"The revised law reflects the people's increasing concerns over ill-treatment of animals," the ministry said in a statement.
Public awareness of animal cruelty rose sharply recently after a local TV programme highlighted a case in which a man beat a dog almost to death.
An animal rights group has offered a one million won reward for the arrest of the offender, who has not been traced.
The revised law will also compel dog owners to register ownership with local governments from 2013.
The number of pets abandoned or lost on the street rose from about 25,000 in 2003 to more than 100,000 last year, the ministry said.