Award-winning photographer Sophie Gamand and HSI/Korea aim to show the dogs’ beauty and resilience one month ahead of the annual Bok Nal dog meat ‘season’
Humane Society International / South Korea
SEOUL―Stunning portraits of dogs rescued from South Korea’s dog meat trade will have their Seoul debut in an exhibition called Beyond Prejudice by award-winning French photographer Sophie Gamand and Humane Society International/Korea.
The 30 dogs featured in the portraits—including Juliette, a golden retriever adopted by “Wheel of Time” actor Daniel Henney―were all once confined in barren cages or chained on dog meat farms in South Korea, but were rescued and adopted overseas thanks to HSI/Korea. Each dog wears an elaborate personalized, handmade collar created by Gamand to symbolize the love and care these dogs now receive as cherished family companions.
This unique exhibition comes to the Seoul Metro Art Centre in Gyeongbokgung Station from May 28 to June 1, which is just over a month before the start of Bok Nal when dog meat consumption typically increases in South Korea, and at a time of considerable political and social momentum for a ban on the dog meat industry. First lady Kim Keon Hee recently reiterated her desire for a dog meat ban, and both the ruling PPP party and the main opposition Democratic Party have expressed their support for legislative reform. Latest polling by Nielsen Korea commissioned by HSI/Korea also show that the vast majority of Koreans (87.5%) have either never eaten dog meat or don’t intend to do so in the future, and a growing majority (56%) support a ban.
HSI/Korea hopes that Gamand’s portraits will help challenge unfounded negative perceptions of “meat dogs” as soulless in the same way that her 2014-2022 photo series Pit Bull Flower Power was instrumental in transforming the public image of pit bulls seeking adoption at U.S. shelters.
Sangkyung Lee, Korea dog meat campaign manager for HSI/Korea, says: “As Korea considers a ban on the dog meat industry, our rescue portraits provide a timely reminder that behind the bars of every cage on these dog meat farms are remarkable dogs every bit as precious as our own canine companions. Sophie Gamand’s portraits celebrate the true beauty of these dogs, all of whom would have been killed for meat had it not been for rescue by HSI/Korea. We hope that by introducing Korean people to dogs like Juliette, Abby, Gregg, Comet and Jayu we can all feel inspired to work together to end the dog meat industry for good.”
It is estimated that up to 1 million dogs a year are intensively bred for human consumption in South Korea. In addition to tosas and Jindo crosses, breeds typically associated with the dog meat trade in Korea, all breeds of dogs can be found on dog meat farms including Labradors, huskies, beagles and spaniels. HSI/Korea invited Gamand to help showcase the resilience, beauty and individuality of these dogs, rebranding them as the true survivors that they are.
Sophie Gamand says: “When I visited a dog meat farm in 2019 with HSI in Korea, I found it a profoundly moving experience. It truly opened my eyes to both the disturbing conditions in which these dogs exist, and the resilience they constantly show despite their suffering. I’m immensely thrilled and proud to be bringing this dog meat trade survivor portrait exhibition to Seoul, particularly at a time where there has been much political momentum towards a dog meat industry ban. I want people to see these dogs for the strong and beautiful beings that they are. I created handmade collars for these survivors because dog collars are a powerful symbol of love, commitment and care which is what these extraordinary dogs deserve.”
This inspiring exhibition also introduces visitors to HSI/Korea’s Models for Change program which works cooperatively with dog meat farmers to help them close their farms and transition to more humane and sustainable livelihoods such as chili plant or parsley growing.
Actor Daniel Henney says: “I’m immensely proud that my dog Juliette is one of the dog meat trade survivors featured in Sophie Gamand’s portrait project for Humane Society International/Korea. My beautiful Juliette started life on a dog meat farm in South Korea, so it’s very special for me to know that her portrait will be part of the exhibition in Seoul. I hope to see a complete end to the dog meat trade in South Korea. I think it’s not a matter of if, but when it will happen.”
The Beyond Prejudice portrait collection will be available for public view free of charge at the Seoul Metro Museum in Gyeongbokgung Station from May 28–June 1, 2023.
KOREA—A joint public-private discussion forum will take place on Feb. 8 at the National Assembly to request the swift enactment of a bill proposed to advance animal-free approaches in science.
The forum discussion entitled “An era that runs tests with novel technologies instead of animals” is hosted by the National Assembly Animal Welfare Forum and organized by Humane Society International/Korea, and Reps. Nam In-soon and Lee Joo-hwan. It takes place at the National Office Members’ Office Building from 2-4:30 p.m. on Feb. 8.
A number of domestic and overseas experts will be joining the discussion to share the past cases of public-private collaborative efforts in working to replace animal testing. The forum will start with HSI/Korea’s director of government affairs Borami Seo providing an introduction on the status on the PAAM Act—the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods. This will be followed by a session led by Dr. Lorna Ewart, chief scientific officer of Boston-based life science company Emulate, who will share examples of public-private cooperation in developing organ-on-a-chip technologies. Jae-ho Oh, director of the Korean Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods, will then provide a presentation of related activities.
In the closing discussion session led by Ewha Womans University Pharmaceutical Sciences Prof. Kyung Min-Lim, a range of experts will share their thoughts and ideas on non-animal test methods. The experts include:
Nam-geun Song, head of the Animal Welfare and Environment Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Jung-kwan Seo, a director with the Risk Assessment Division at the National Institute of Environmental Research. Young-ji Kim, a director at the Division of Regenerative Medicine Policy’s Regenerative Medicine Innovation Task Force at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Young-jin Song, a director with the Bio-Convergence Industry Division at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Tae-ho Lee, deputy director of the Bioscience Technology Division at the Ministry of Science and ICT.
Young-jin Ahn, director of the Clinical Trials Division at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Young-jae Cho, a professor at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital.
Bae-hwan Kim, chairman of the Korea Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments.
HSI/Korea’s Borami Seo said: “As cases of public-private cooperation have proven critical in the process of developing many innovative technologies in the past, technological development through such cooperation is crucial in the case of animal-free testing. Korea recognizes the importance of animal-free testing and has actively conducted technology research efforts in this area. However, the lack of cooperative working structures among ministries and the absence of a legal basis have prevented public-private cooperative efforts from taking place, which has caused difficulties in nurturing the industry. By co-organizing this event, HSI/Korea is excited to provide an opportunity for related ministries to share their ideas and emphasize the importance of public-private cooperation, by opening a channel for communication towards the enactment of the PAAM Act.”
Dr. Lorna Ewart said: “With the advancement of human relevant technologies that are more predictive than two dimensional cell culture or animal testing, companies must be willing to invest in research and development, as well as commercialization efforts, while working hand-in-hand with regulatory agencies. To bring efficient, accurate and safe preclinical testing models to the world market, Korea must initiate and integrate these actions.”
Research and development efforts for creating and commercializing human analog models, organ-on-a-chip, organoid, 3D-printing-used tissue reconstruction, computer modeling and big data analysis have gained speed worldwide. Both the public and private sectors are encouraged to make investments to make technological development more effective and efficient.
Korea has also been working to support infrastructural expansion of animal-free testing methods by joining forces with centers for the validation of alternative methods in the United States, Japan, Canada and Europe. Yet despite this effort, problems of duplicating R&D budgets, difficulties of commercializing new technologies and the absence of a validation system due to the lack of cooperative working structures persist in Korea. The situation has drawn the National Assembly Budget Office and many experts to request more efficient R&D cycle management and administrative innovation.
Since consensus was reached on the need to advance a bill on promoting the development, dissemination and use of animal-free testing methods, a cross-ministerial discussion forum was held on the topic at the National Assembly in 2019, followed by the Korea Legislative Research Institute’s research study on the need for the bill the same year.
After expert opinions were gathered for such a bill to be drafted in 2020, two bills on promoting animal-free testing methods were proposed and are awaiting review at the National Assembly. The first was proposed by Rep. In-soon Nam in December 2020, and the second was proposed by Rep. Jeoung-ae Han two years later in December 2022.
HSI/Korea submits petition with over 66,000 signatures to support passage of PAAM Act
Humane Society International
SEOUL, South Korea—A petition to rally support for passage of a bill proposed to advance animal-free approaches in science and product testing has been delivered to the National Assembly by Humane Society International/Korea.
In a ceremony held on Jan. 31, HSI/Korea officially delivered the petition with more than 66,000 signatures to members of the National Assembly, with a request for swift enactment of the PAAM Act—the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods—which was first introduced in December 2020 by Rep. Nam. A second bill on the topic was also proposed in December 2022 by Rep. Han.
Reps. Hong-keun Park, Jeoung-ae Han, In-soon Nam and eight other lawmakers with the National Assembly Animal Welfare Forum, as well as key personnel from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Science and ICT attended the ceremony.
HSI/Korea has been gathering signatures since August 2021 in a campaign co-hosted by Lush Korea that utilized major social media outlets and a screening of HSI’s “Save Ralph,” an award winning film about the story of a rabbit called Ralph who is used in a cosmetics testing facility. “Save Ralph” has won more than 40 awards including the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Good award. Borami Seo, HSI/Korea’s director of government affairs, said: “In commemorating the Year of the Rabbit, we have delivered the voice of HSI/Korea’s ‘spokes-bunny’ Ralph and the people calling for support in the passage of this law to replace animal testing.”
Korean government statistics reveal that 4.8 million animals were used for testing in 2021, yet according to a public opinion survey by Realmeter on behalf of HSI/Korea, 81.6% of Koreans agree on the need for legislative support to develop and disseminate replacements for animal testing.
Across the world, the drive to replace animal testing and build new evaluation models and systems is seeing the acceleration of human analog models, organ-on-a-chip, organoid, 3D-printing-used tissue reconstruction, computer modeling and big data analysis.
Although Korea has made its own contributions in respect to this global trend, progress has been slow due to the lack of related laws and cooperative working structures among ministries. In particular, the lack of a central agency to direct the initiative to support non-animal methods has prevented systematic and efficient implementation of related policies. HSI/Korea believes that the central government needs to play a strong and active role in verifying, certifying and promoting new non-animal testing methods.
Rep. Hong-keun Park of the Democratic Party of Korea said: “As a co-representative of the Animal Welfare Forum, I feel responsible for the continued practice of cruel and unnecessary use of animal testing. We expect that the petition with signatures from more than 60,000 people will be able to call for attention to the passage of the bill. I will provide any support for the passage of the bill and cross-ministry cooperation on the matter.”
HSI/Korea’s Borami Seo said “This is a crucial time to discuss the two proposed bills that will promote and vitalize the scientific research and testing using new emerging, human-based approaches. Passage of these bills will be the stepping stone to further the replacement of animals in testing.”
Director of Korea Center for Validation of Alternative Animal Methods at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said “We are aware of the importance of the bill that replace animal testing and agree with its initiatives. As a government, we will to our best to provide support for its passage”
A joint public-private discussion forum co-organized by HSI/Korea will be held at the National Assembly on Feb. 8 to rally support for passage of the bill following the delivery of the petition.
In 2021, the number of animals used for research testing in South Korea reached a record high of 4.8 million. This trend of increased animal testing in South Korea cuts against the global trend of development and adoption of innovative, non-animal approaches—the New Approach Methodologies. Despite its current reliance on animals, South Korea is actively involved in the pursuit of innovative approaches including organ-on-a-chip technology, organoids and computer-based modelling. However, wider adoption of NAMs is slow and could be accelerated through stronger harmonization of efforts involving regulatory authorities and other stakeholders.
To provide the legislative support needed to advance the use of of NAMs, HSI/Korea has been working with lawmakers, researchers, and industries to pass the PAAM Act. This bill, the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternative to Animal Testing Methods, was introduced in 2020 at Korea’s National Assembly by Assemblymember Ms. In-soon Nam.
As a part of ongoing efforts to raise stakeholder awareness around the PAAM Act and the need for wider adoption of NAMs, HSI/Korea’s director of government affairs, Borami Seo, spoke to Dr. Lorna Ewart, chief scientific officer at Emulate, Inc. Emulate produces human cell-based technologies that recreate human biology, Organ-Chips, also known as microphysiological systems. We asked Dr. Ewart to explain how these technologies can shift the paradigm of health research toward more human-predictive methods.
HSI: For those readers who are unfamiliar with organ-on-a-chip technology, could you briefly explain what it is?
Lorna Ewart: OOC is an in vitro model that allows cells to exist and function as if they were in the human body. We believe that if the cells are in an environment familiar to them, they will function like they would in the human body. Therefore, the data we generate from these models, can be translated into whole human body response, increasing the translational value of the data.
HSI: OOC is still a new technology. What are the challenges that you have been facing?
Lorna Ewart: At Emulate, we see five major challenges. One, scientists need to be convinced that the microfluidic platform is robust and reliable. Now that we can show this, the next challenge is sourcing good quality human cells. Cell quality is a challenge for the industry at large, but it is important because good cells make good models, and this equals good data. The third challenge is ensuring that we reduce the complexity of operation. We want to make it as easy as possible for scientists to work with our instruments to generate data. The next challenge would be answering the question, “Why bother using organ-chips when there are other methods?” We need to demonstrate the value of data generated using OOC. Lastly, there are many organizations developing OOC models. Engineers are building diverse microfluidics platforms or designing different chips. Many people in this field believe that having different types, shapes and sizes of instruments or chips is slowing the field down. Therefore, there are many discussions around the standardization of the technology which will accelerate adoption and ultimately commercialization of OOC, but standardization too soon may reduce overall innovation.
HSI: What are the prospects of OOC? How far has the commercialization process come?
Lorna Ewart: At Emulate, we work with academic researchers, scientists in the pharmaceutical industry, and government agencies, predominantly the US Food and Drug Administration. Those scientists are either using models that we have developed or we train them to build their own models. Emulate currently has validated workflows and applications for five major organs: the liver, the colon intestine, the duodenum intestine, the brain and the kidney. However, our customers have built over 70 various combinations of models and applications.
In terms of commercialization, Emulate began to be commercially active in 2018. We sell the Human Emulate System, which includes the chips, the microfluidic instrument, software and accessories needed for scientists to use OOC in their research. If researchers want, they can also buy cells from Emulate, which we call a “Biokit,” across the five organ models we are building. Or customers can buy chips that are compatible with the microfluidic instrument and build models using their own cells. We also perform fee-for-service studies where customers ask us to perform the experiment on their behalf, often involving one of their assets.
HSI: For regulatory adoption, standardization seems to be the next step. How does it work with regulators?
Lorna Ewart: The US and EU regulatory authorities welcome the fact that OOC platforms represent a credible approach to animal models. They are specifically interested to learn if these new models can provide data that closely resemble human responses and that they are reproducible and reliable.
Regulatory authorities want to understand the relevance of the data that OOC can provide. This is because they are primarily interested in safety data generated from OOC. The regulator’s role in progressing candidate drugs into clinical trials relies on demonstrating that it is safe for humans. In subsequent phases of clinical development, efficacy is of paramount importance. Models that show a high degree of human relevance will give the regulators greater confidence to progress the candidate drug into the clinic. We should also remember that regulators also want confidence in drug efficacy and OOC can also be used for this purpose and may also reduce the use of animals.
HSI: Can you give us an example where OOC is used to generate safety data and show its value?
Lorna Ewart: According to current regulatory guidelines, candidate drugs are required to be tested in two animal species, typically a rat and dog, when considering small molecules.
In November 2019, Emulate published in Science Translational Medicine, describing the simultaneous development of rat, dog, and human Liver-Chips. We demonstrated that species chips were able to reproduce species-specific toxicity, importantly highlighting where chips could highlight toxicities that were not relevant to human, therefore enabling a candidate drug to progress but equally showing that toxicity detected in human Liver-Chips should be considered very carefully before progressing to a clinical trial. Regulatory authorities are very interested in understanding how this technology can be used to generate more human-relevant data like this.
To my knowledge, there has been no declaration of any pharmaceutical companies stating the use of OOC instead of animal models for safety testing. But I believe it will happen.
HSI: How is OOC replacing animal testing?
Lorna Ewart: I see that OOC has a role in each of the categories of the 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.
Reduction is probably the first example where OOC will impact. Emulate recently completed the single largest Organ-Chip study to date where we evaluated the performance of the human Liver-Chip across 27 small molecules that had been in the clinic. Liver-Chip was able to detect 9 out of 10 drugs that resulted in clinical hepatotoxicity. As such, we propose that scientists should adopt this model and use it before dose range finding studies in animals. By doing this, scientists can identify hepatoxic drug candidates earlier in their screening cascades. They would therefore not need to perform the in vivo study for this candidate, thus reducing the number of animals used. Ultimately, as more organ chip models show a high predictive value for clinical outcome, conversations about the steps towards replacement of animals can begin.
Refinement may be a little harder to demonstrate but it is possible to use OOC to understand the exposure ranges and therefore avoid exposing animals to unnecessarily high doses of the candidate drug.
HSI: Do you see researchers moving away from animal testing? What’s your perspective on this?
Lorna Ewart: I sense that there is growing momentum in the field of animal model alternatives. I believe we are in very exciting times, perhaps at the tip of the iceberg with growing voices from younger scientific generations questioning the validity of animal testing, especially as technology continues to advance.
Governments can also play a major role. Korea’s PAAM Act will help accelerate the acceptance and use of NAMs. Discussions in the European Union are also pushing scientists to think differently. It’s not going to happen just through one organization, one scientist alone. It’s partnership work.
HSI: Regarding the role of government, do you have any suggestions how Korean government can encourage the OOC field and move towards non-animal approaches?
Lorna Ewart: Firstly, the technology has huge potential, but the field needs further investment to continue to improve it and realize its full value. If the Korean government can consider targeted investment towards non-animal alternatives such as human relevant models, it would drive the field forward.
Additionally, government can also proactively encourage the use of new technologies especially when it comes to developing pharmaceutical products. This can be done by positively choosing to use alternatives rather than accepting the traditional norm of animal testing.
HSI: Regarding Korea’s PAAM Act, how do you think it will contribute to advancing science communities?
Lorna Ewart: Researchers will be able to use the best tools available to them, instead of being limited by animal models, which are known to have translational issues. By reducing our global reliance on non-human testing methods and instead leveraging human biology for human drug development, we anticipate the combination of human biology and technology to usher in a new era in human health.
Reference in this article to any specific brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only, and does not constitute or imply endorsement by Humane Society International or its affiliates of any specific company or its products or services, and should not be construed as or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily state or accurately reflect those of Humane Society International or its affiliates.
Humane Society International
SEOUL, South Korea—Humane Society International/Korea welcomes the introduction of the Act on the Vitalization of Development, Dissemination, and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods (VAAM Act). Assembly member Jeoung Ae Han and 12 other National Assembly members introduced the measure on December 23rd.
In an era with so many questions arising around the scientific validity of animal testing carried out in relation to food, pharmaceutical and chemical safety, there are also increasing efforts to develop and standardize alternatives to animal testing approaches.
The VAAM Act was introduced to emphasize the urgency of passing a bill introduced in December 2020, that supports non-animal technology development and adoptionAssembly member In-Soon Nam introduced the earlier bill, the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods (PAAM Act).
Assembly member Han explained the aim of the new bill: “There needs to be a legislative system to actively share research information and support for alternatives to animal testing using innovative approaches by cross-ministerial authorities. We need to improve public health with advanced science, following global examples.”
As HSI/Korea director of government affairs, Borami Seo observed, “There are challenges in using internationally recognised alternative methods in Korea due to different guidelines provided by various ministries. It is important that our central ministries come together to support non-animal approaches with strategic plans from development to implementation. Assemblymember Nam’s December, 2020 was a first step. Together, the VAAM Act. and PAAM Act will serve to prioritize the importance of human biology-based methods without using animals. That’s great for people and animals.”
SEOUL—Humane Society International/Korea has won an “Outstanding Contribution to Society” award, given by the Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments.
The award is sponsored by KSAAE every year to recognize individual academics and institutions and entities that contribute to the promotion of alternative approaches to animal testing. The award ceremony was held at the 3rd Asia Congress for Alternatives to Animal Experiments in Korea. Congress participants, along with representatives from South Korea, Japan, China, India, Europe, and USA joined in congratulating HSI/Korea on receiving the award.
HSI/Korea has been active in public awareness and legislative campaigns focusing on the chemical toxicity, medical and biologicals fields to remove obsolete animal tests and promote non-animal methods using state-of-the-art technologies. Even as interest in adopting human-biology relevant approaches increases worldwide, regulatory acceptance and use of such human-predictive methods remain slow in Korea.
HSI/Korea, director, government affairs Borami Seo said “We are thrilled to receive this “Outstanding Contribution to Society” award. HSI/Korea would like to share this honor with the many parties who supported our mission to promote animal testing replacement for better science. Right now, there is a bill, the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods in the national assembly and we urge the government to support this measure in the interest of Korean scientific communities and public health.”
WASHINGTON—This week, 34 dogs are arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport from South Korea where they were rescued from the dog meat industry by Humane Society International/Korea and its partners. Romeo, Nuri, Daisy, Phoenix, Brown Bear and the other dogs coming to the U.S. will be cared for at a care and rehabilitation center operated by HSI and the Humane Society of the United States. They will receive the love and comfort that the dog meat industry denied them, including beds, a nutritious diet, enrichment and veterinary care. Eventually they will be transferred to the HSUS’s shelter and rescue partners where they will be ready for adoption into loving homes.
Up to an estimated 1 million dogs a year are killed for meat in South Korea, intensively bred on farms where they are locked in barren, metal cages without water or proper food, living in squalid conditions, many suffering from malnutrition and painful skin and eye diseases. Most are brutally slaughtered at around one year of age, usually by electrocution.
Sangkyung Lee, dog meat campaigner for Humane Society International/Korea, said: “For these dogs flying to the United States, South Korea’s dog meat industry will soon be a distant memory. But hundreds of thousands of other dogs are still languishing in terrible conditions on dog meat farms for a meat that very few Koreans want to eat and most want banned. It’s now been one year since the South Korean government acknowledged the need for a dog meat task force, and we are still no closer to ending this cruel industry. The time for delay is over. We are urging relevant government ministries to proactively work towards ensuring the task force delivers a plan to end the suffering of all dogs living miserable lives on dog meat farms.”
Jeffrey Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said: “As a proud parent of a dog rescued in 2019 from the 15th farm Humane Society International helped transition out of dog meat industry, I know these dogs can become wonderful additions to a family. All these nearly three dozen dogs needed was the chance to be saved from the dog meat industry, and that was made possible by HSI’s fantastic teams and partners on-the-ground in South Korea and here in the United States.”
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International, said: “It is a testament to the professionalism and
effectiveness of our staff and animal advocate partners in South Korea that local authorities there are working more frequently with us to help coordinate care for dogs saved from the meat trade. As these rescued dogs arrive in the United States and move into our rehabilitation center, we look forward to the next chapter: preparing them to be adopted into loving homes where they can finally enjoy life as all dogs should.”
As these dogs start new lives, Humane Society International will continue to campaign for an end to the dog meat industry. Since 2015, HSI/Korea’s Models for Change program has helped dog farmers in South Korea transition to new, more humane and profitable livelihoods such as chili plant and parsley growing or water truck delivery. HSI/Korea has permanently closed 17 dog meat farms and rescued more than 2,500 dogs who find adoptive homes in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a small number rehomed in South Korea.
An opinion survey by Nielsen Korea published and commissioned by HSI/Korea in October this year, shows that 85% of Koreans say they have never eaten dog meat or will not do so in the future. In addition, 56% of people said they support a dog meat ban.
Download video/photos of HSI/Korea dog meat farm rescueshere
Download video/photos of the departure of the dogs from South Koreahere
Download video/photos of the U.S. arrival of the first group of dogshere
54% of Koreans in their 20s who ate dog meat, did so reluctantly under pressure from fathers and senior work colleagues
Humane Society International
SEOUL, South Korea—More than half of South Koreans in their 20s who have consumed dog meat in the past year, felt social pressure to do so from influential seniors such as their father or senior colleagues at work, a new survey finds. While the majority of respondents in this age group did not consume dog meat, of those who did, 54% reported that they ate dog meat under pressure, rising to 57.4% in urban areas. Despite this, the survey found that nationwide refusal to eat dog meat is very high, with 87.5% of people saying they have never eaten it or will not do so in future and 56% supporting a ban.
Animal protection group Humane Society International/Korea which commissioned market research experts Nielson Korea to conduct the survey of 1,500 people from urban and rural areas, says young Koreans instinctively feel that eating dogs is wrong and they should feel empowered to say no in social situations. HSI/Korea says that pressure to eat dog meat from family or work seniors, means that more people—particularly in urban areas—are eating dog meat than actually want to, and the percentage of dog meat eaters would be considerably lower if more people felt free to exercise their individual choice.
Sangkyung Lee, Humane Society International/ Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, said: “Although it is clear that the vast majority of South Koreans don’t and won’t eat dog meat, it is nonetheless concerning that so many young Koreans feel pressured to eat it even though they don’t want to. The data shows that people in their 20s are more supportive of a dog meat ban than other age groups, and are more concerned about animal suffering and the lack of hygiene. Despite those concerns, more than half of respondents in this age group who did eat dog meat in the past year, say they felt pressured to do so. Pressuring people to eat dog meat needs to become socially unacceptable, and young Koreans like myself need to feel empowered to say no and stick to our principles. It’s ironic that while an individual’s right to choose is the top reason put forward by those who oppose a dog meat ban, our survey suggests that if social pressure were removed, even more people would exercise that choice by not eating dog meat at all.”
The main findings of the survey are that:
87.5% nationwide say they have not or will not consume dog meat in the future.
53.6% of Koreans in their 20s who ate dog meat in the past year, did so despite not wanting to.
29.2% nationwide were first introduced to dog meat by their father and 22% by their office senior.
63.7% nationwide say they are concerned about the welfare of dogs raised for meat.
53.1% nationwide believe dog meat is not safe and hygienic to consume.
56% nationwide support a dog meat ban.
64.1% of respondents nationwide who oppose a dog meat ban do so because they believe it should be an individual’s choice.
Earlier this month (Oct 7) at the National Assembly, Democratic Party Assembly member Jeoung-ae Han expressed her frustration that the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety isn’t doing enough to tackle the illegal and unhygienic dog meat industry. Han said: “According to the Food Sanitation Act, dog meat is not considered food therefore it is clear that dog meat trade is illegal. The current law states that the Ministry can crack down on dog slaughter, and dog meat processing, distribution and cooking because it is illegal. However, the Ministry does not do its work.” She went on to say, “it is threatening people’s health to turn a blind eye to unhygienically processed dog meat.”
A government taskforce was announced in November last year and established in December, to evaluate options for a dog meat ban. Despite surveys showing that the majority of Koreans would support a ban, the task force has twice delayed publishing its conclusions and has now been silent since June this year. HSI/Korea says the time for delay is over and urges President Yoon to help South Korea end the dog meat era forever.
JungAh Chae, executive director of HSI/Korea says: “The taskforce was originally set up because it was recognized that the time is right to ban dog meat. However, almost a year later, the taskforce has still not advanced any recommendations for how to implement a dog meat ban despite that outcome clearly being favoured by most Koreans. President Yoon is a dog owner himself, including of a rescued Jindo, a breed we typically find suffering on dog meat farms. We urge him to help make all Jindos just as lucky by ending South Korea’s dog meat era once and for all. By doing so we would join with others across Asia such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand in consigning dog meat to the history books.”
Since 2015, HSI/Korea’s Models for Change program has helped dog farmers in South Korea transition to new, more humane and profitable livelihoods such as chili plant and parsley growing or water truck delivery. HSI/Korea has permanently closed 17 dog meat farms and rescued more than 2,500 dogs who find adoptive homes in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a small number rehomed in South Korea.
Notes: The survey of 1,500 people from urban and rural areas was conducted online in August 2022 with a margin of error of +-2.53%.
Humane Society International
SEOUL—South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has introduced an amendment to its Biologicals standard and test method guidelines, and will no longer require the Abnormal Toxicity test. The outdated method was carried out for batch quality control of pharmaceutical and biological products, using mice and guinea pigs. Humane Society International/Korea welcomed the ministry’s decision to end this obsolete animal test for biological products.
The World Health Organization guidelines recommended the removal of the Abnormal Toxicity Test in 2018 and it is no longer required in the European Union, the United States and Canada. In Japan and India the test can be waived for some products.
The test was originally introduced in the 1950s using mice and guinea pigs to detect external non-specific contaminants in pharmaceutical and biological products and has remained a standard despite mounting scientific evidence questioning its reliability and value to the detection of quality and safety issues.
Borami Seo, HSI/Korea’s senior policy manager said “We welcome this much-awaited amendment that does away with an obsolete animal test. This test was required for regulatory purposes despite evidence showing its lack of scientific value. Korea has a demonstrated capacity to adopt and refine rapidly advancing technologies. We hope that with this important step, Korea will move even faster, showing its commitment to developing new technologies and reforming regulatory guidelines with non-animal methods.”
Introduced in December 2020, the ‘Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Method’ urges governments to collaborate and coordinate to provide proactive measures in advancing science without animal use. Passage of this bill will provide a legal basis for governments and industries to keep pace with advancing science and enable the global regulatory community to move towards adopting non-animal approaches. In addition, it will encourage regular reviews of obsolete tests for elimination from regulatory test guidelines.
HSI received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with regulatory authorities and industry stakeholders across the globe to eliminate or replace redundant animal regulations for human and veterinary products.