Commercial whaling was banned in Korea in 1986 under an agreement with the International Whaling Commission, though commercial sales remained legal. More than 20 years on there are dozens of restaurants at Jangsengpo that specialize in whale meat. The village on the country's southeastern tip is famous for whale meat.
While whale meat today is not as cheap or readily available compared to the days when whaling was allowed, these restaurants survive by buying whale meat from "bycatch," i.e. whales accidentally caught in fish nets.
Advocates of lifting the ban argue that limited supply leads to rampant poaching and that shady trading practices are causing hygiene problems.
The Korean government says it will push to lift the ban at an IWC meeting in Portugal. Environmental groups here have described the move as doing the unthinkable.
The government says it will argue that whale meat dishes are part of the cultural heritage and above all, that there is a need to control the growing whale population for the broader marine ecosystem.