According to the Korean zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Golden Dog, however based on the current trend in Korea it may be right to redefine it as the year of the Pampered Dog. While walking around the streets of big cities in Korea, such as Seoul or Busan, it is hard not to notice small and well cared puppies that walk with their owners with great pleasure.
In many cases, they are seated in a stroller or carried by their owners in a carrier very much like babies. At first glance, it seems strange, but it shows the special treatment pets get in Korea, especially the smaller ones.
Data provided by the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture show that in 2010 about 17.4% of the Korean households owned at least one pet, while in 2015 the rate increased to 21.8%. Similar data were found in a survey conducted by the world's fourth largest research firm, GfK, in 2015. The respondents were asked to report which pets they have, if any. It turned out that dogs are the most popular pet followed by fish. Some of the respondents own more than one pet.
This means that in South Korea, a country of 51 million people, every fifth person is a happy owner of a pet, about ten million people. According to the Korean Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, the number of pets in 2015 was about 7 million, and in 2017 it increased to about 10 million pets. About seventy percent of them are dogs.
The increase in pet-owning households naturally led to an increase in the pet industry market size. While in 2012, the Korean pet industry market size was around US $790 million, three years later by 2015 the market doubled to US $1.7 billion. According to forecasts by NongHyup, The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, the pet industry in Korea is expected to triple its size to US $5.1 billion in about three years.