South Korea is planning a series of events to promote halal restaurants in a bid to boost Islamic tourism, the Korean Tourism Organization announced on Wednesday.
The Korea Times reports that the KTO and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism have been holding “Halal Restaurant Week Korea” for the past three years for the benefit of Muslim tourists so they can “address one of the biggest hurdles they face while visiting Korea” of finding Halal certified food and restaurants.
The practice of Halal, which translates to “permissible” in Arabic, completely bans pork and places Islamic requirements on the preparation of other meat. As noted by the BBC, Halal “slaughtering animals or poultry, dhabiha, involves killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe.”
“Animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and all blood is drained from the carcass. During the process, a Muslim will recite a dedication, know as tasmiya or shahada,” the explanation continues.
There remains widespread criticism of the practice among animal rights activists. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals denounced it as “unnecessarily cruel” and has demanded that all animals be stunned beforehand.
Concerns of animal cruelty appear to be of little concern to the KTO, with the event set to last two months until October 31st. On Thursday, the KTO held a conference at the InterContinental Seoul COEX where various Muslim-related companies provided information to around 40 restaurants and food suppliers on how to offer them traditional Korean cuisine made in accordance with Islamic requirements.
The promotion push is part of a wider effort to attract Muslim tourists to South Korea, particularly from Indonesia, from where the greatest number of Muslim tourists to South Korea come from. With a population of 264 million people, Indonesia is also the world’s most populous Islamic country, with 87 percent of people identifying with that religion. Meanwhile, there are estimated to be around 100,000 Muslims in South Korea, equivalent to around two percent of the country’s population.
“The number of Muslim visitors to Korea is expected to surpass 1 million this year for the first time,” a KTO official said. “We are making an effort to develop quality tour programs for Muslim tourists to meet varied demands from them.”