Humane Society International

Liver chip aav expression

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.”


Media contact: Borami Seo

Humane Society International / Global


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.”


Media Contact: Borami Seo:

Humane Society International

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 rescues here
  • Download video/photos of the departure of the dogs from South Korea here
  • Download video/photos of the U.S. arrival of the first group of dogs here 

54% of Koreans in their 20s who ate dog meat, did so reluctantly under pressure from fathers and senior work colleagues

Humane Society International

Jean Chung/For HSI

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.

Download photos and video of an HSI/Korea dog meat farm rescue.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media:

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

HSI Global

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.

Additional resources:



Media Contact: Borami Seo,

The dogs were due to be killed after local authorities closed the farm

Humane Society International

Jean Chung for HSI

SEOUL—Twenty-one dogs left behind when authorities closed an illegal dog meat farm in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, have been saved by animal groups just days before the start of Bok Nal—the three hottest days of summer during which most dogs on farms are sold and killed for dog meat soup, known as “bosintang.”

Humane Society International/Korea and Korean K9 Rescue saved the young dogs after Ansan city authorities shut down the facility for operating without a licence. The government officials removed 38 dogs to their shelter for rehoming but left 21 behind with a deadline for removal or they would be at risk of being euthanised or sold to a slaughterhouse.  The farmer had been breeding dogs for human consumption at the site for six years.

The dogs—Romeo, Henry, Tori, Juliette, Brown Bear, Christian and all the others—will now receive veterinary care, vaccinations and undergo quarantine, before eventually being flown by HSI to North America to seek adoptive homes.

The rescue comes just days before South Korea’s first of three “Bok” days when dog meat consumption is most popular and the country’s usually low consumer demand increases. It is also the first Bok Nal since President Yoon Seok-yeol took office and comes as the government’s task force deliberating a nationwide dog meat ban has, for the second time, delayed announcing its recommendations for a phase out. President Yoon and first lady Kim Keon-hee—both of whom have voiced support for an end to dog meat—share their home with four dogs including Tori a rescued Jindo, a breed typically found on dog meat farms. The 21 dogs left on this illegal farm are Jindo crosses.

Sangkyung Lee, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, said: “This dog farm is typical of so many across South Korea where thousands of dogs are languishing in filthy, deprived conditions, enduring the unimaginable frustration of being confined in tiny cages their whole lives until they are brutally killed by electrocution. Thankfully, we are able to bring a happy ending for these young dogs who will receive all the medical care and attention they need before flying to North America later in the year to seek adoptive homes. We urge President Yoon to ensure the national government immediately takes action  to end the dog meat industry, so that no more dogs like these will have to endure this suffering for a food that most people in South Korea no longer wish to eat.”

The farmer, Mr Hwang, has signed a legally binding agreement never to farm dogs again. He said: “I make most of my money from doing handyman jobs, so that’s what I’ll continue to do now. When I took over the farm, the seller deceived me and my partner by telling us it would be a profitable business but it simply hasn’t been true.”

Gina Boehler, executive director of Korean K9 Rescue, said: “Korean K9 Rescue is happy to work in partnership with HSI in dismantling, and rescuing animals from, the Ansan dog meat farm. As the animals are suffering in the sweltering summer heat, we have moved quickly to remove them from an unbearable situation that no living being should endure. It’s important we keep pushing for reform and change to the agriculture laws within South Korea and effectively promote change from within. We are grateful for our collaboration with HSI and we know these dogs will go on to live a better life. We have seen and recognized the approval of most South Korean citizens who actively oppose the dog meat trade and lobby for change, which keeps our mission strong and alive.”

HSI/Korea, which has permanently closed down 17 dog meat farms in the country and assisted local groups and law enforcement in rescuing dogs from other farms and markets, campaigns for legislation in South Korea to end the dog meat industry. A recent opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows nearly 84% of South Koreans say they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% support a legislative ban.

Dog meat facts:

  • Although most people in South Korea don’t eat dog, the belief that dog meat soup will cool the body and build stamina during the hot summer, particularly during Bok Nal season, still holds with some, especially the older generation.
  • Since 2015, HSI/Korea’s Models for Change program has seen the organisation permanently close 17 dog meat farms, rescuing 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. The program also helps dog farmers transition to new, more humane, animal-free and profitable livelihoods such as chili plant and parsley growing or water truck delivery.
  • Dog meat is banned (with varying degrees of enforcement) in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Singapore, as well as the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, Siem Reap province in Cambodia, and in 17 cities and regencies across Indonesia.
  • Despite these growing bans, an estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat across Asia.
  • This rescue was conducted under careful health and safety restrictions, and all the dogs will receive veterinary care including tests for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”) as well as receiving rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, parainfluenza and Leptospira vaccines. The dogs will be quarantined and health certified prior to transport overseas, in accordance with international export and import requirements.

Download photos and video of the rescue.


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Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).

Humane Society International / Global

Mice in a cage
Guven Polat/istock

SEOUL—Humane Society International/Korea has issued an urgent call for the National Assembly to enact legislation to reverse the alarming and unconscionable increase in cruel animal testing. Statistics published this month by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency reveal that animal use has increased dramatically over the past five years, from 3.08million in 2017 to 4.9million in 2021, with nearly half (45%) of all animals subject to the most severe pain and suffering since 2017. These statisitcs show no commitment from the government to reduce, refine and ultimately replace the use of animals for testing.

So-called “Grade E” experiments subject animals to extreme distress, unrelieved pain and death. The proportion of these especially cruel experiments occurring in Korea (45%) is dramatically higher than in Canada (1.8%), the European Union (11%) or any other developed countries. A common example of “Grade E” experiments are  lethal poisoning tests in which animals are forced to swallow or inhale a massive dose of  industrial chemicals, pesticides or other products and are observed for up to two weeks for signs of toxic reactions. These  can include seizures and other neurological impairment, hypersalivation, diarrhea, lethargy, coma and death. Other examples include extremely invasive surgical procedures induction of severe stress or shock, burn or trauma infliction on unanesthetized animals, or any experiment where pain cannot be prevented or effectively managed.

Last year, the Ministry of Environment announced its ambition for most new chemical test data to be non-animal by 2030. However, the new statistics reveal a 119% increase in animal use for chemical testing, suggesting that a major regulatory intervention is necessary to meet MOE’s 2030 vision.

The statistics also show a 50% increase in animal use for basic research. This research   studies fundamental biology, physiology, biochemistry, etc. This trend illustrates a failure by research funding bodies in Korea to prioritize funding for human-centered, non-animal technologies. This preferred testing includes  computational systems, organoids and organ-on-chips, which are ideally suited for studies of basic biology.

These negative animal welfare trends are further exacerbated by government and private companies’ decisions to fund the expansion of animal testing infrastructure by constructing new laboratory animal buildings. For example, Jeju National University secured 123,000 dollars of budget to build a new laboratory animal center by 2024.

The Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods (Paam Act) was designed to reverse these backward lab animal testing trends by requiring Korean regulatory and research ministries to work together to develop long-term roadmaps with the goals of:

  • prioritizing research development of state-of-art methods that better mimic human biology rather than cruel and outdated animal models.
  • encouraging authorities to revise regulatory testing requirements to more rapidly phase-in animal-free approaches which support advancements in medicine and consumer safety without harming animals.

HSI/Korea Senior Policy Manager Borami Seo said, “The increase of laboratory animals does not correlate to the advancement of medicine, consumer safety or environmental protection. Modern non-animal technologies can simulate human biology more accurately than tests on monkeys, mice or dogs. We are living in an era that celebrates innovation, and it’s time for Korean central ministries to commit to a future without animal testing. Assembly members can lay the foundation for this shift by enacting the Paam Act.”

View the 2021 laboratory animal statistics report.


Media contact: Borami Seo:

Humane Society International/Korea says taskforce is vital to “close this miserable chapter in South Korea’s history”

Humane Society International

Jean Chung for HSI Dogs are shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea. The operation is part of HSI’s efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia.

SEOUL—The South Korean government taskforce deliberating a ban on the country’s dog meat industry has announced a delay of two months in publishing its recommendations. Humane Society International/Korea, which has rescued more than 2,500 dogs from South Korea’s dog meat industry, says opinion polls show public support for ending the industry, with nearly 84% of South Koreans not eating dog, and almost 60% favoring a ban.

Lola Webber, Humane Society International’s End Dog Meat campaign director, says: “With more than one million dogs a year needlessly suffering for a meat that hardly anyone eats, and with so many dog farmers struggling to make a living in light of dwindling consumer demand, we hope that the taskforce will deliver a bold plan to close this miserable chapter in South Korea’s history. As a candidate, President-elect Yoon Seok-yeol pledged support for ending dog meat provided there is social consensus, and opinion polls show we’ve reached a tipping point in public opinion, so we hope to see that momentum for change reflected when the taskforce makes its recommendations.”

The taskforce was established last year to assess social consensus after President Moon Jae-in suggested the time is right to consider a ban. President-elect Yoon has three cats and four dogs, including Tori the rescued Jindo, a breed typically found on dog meat farms.

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. Most of the farmers involved experience mounting societal, family and financial pressure to get out of farming dogs. With growing concern for animal welfare, and over six million pet dogs now living in Korean homes, demand for dog meat has dwindled. 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.

Dog meat facts:

  • Although most people in South Korea don’t eat dog, the belief that dog meat soup will cool the body and build stamina during the hot summer, particularly during Bok Nal season across July and August, still holds with some, especially the older generation.
  • Most dogs slaughtered for meat in South Korea are killed by electrocution although some are also hanged.
  • Dog meat is banned (with varying degrees of enforcement) in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Singapore, as well as the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China and Siem Reap province in Cambodia. In Indonesia, 14 cities, regions or regencies have banned dog meat: Karanganyar, Sukohrajo, Salatiga city, Malang, Semarang city, Semarang Regency, Blora Regency, Brebes Regency, Purbalingga Regency, Magelang city, Jepara, Blitar city, Mojokerto city and Mojokerto Regency. Despite these growing bans, an estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat across Asia.

Download photos/video of HSI/Korea’s dog meat farm closure program in action.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director international media:

Humane Society International

Ralph and syringe

SEOUL—On this World Day for Animals in Laboratories, Humane Society International/Korea is releasing a Korean version of its stop-motion animated short film #SaveRalph to rally citizen and political support for the passage of a groundbreaking new law to advance animal-free approaches in science and product testing.

Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing (PAAM Act). The proposed law is the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods (PAAM Act) introduced by National Assembly member In-soon Nam, stipulates setting up a strategic legal system to prioritize the development and implementation of animal-free approaches  to support advancements in medicine and consumer safety without harming animals.

Featuring an international cast of A-list celebrities including Zac Efron and Taika Waititi, #SaveRalph shines a light on the suffering animals endure in laboratories and engages consumers and policymakers in HSI’s mission to promote science without suffering.

Korean government statistics reveal that 4.14 million animals were used for testing in 2020, yet according to a public opinion survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 70.9% of respondents agreed to the need for an increased effort to replace animal testing in medical and scientific research. A similar survey by Realmeter on behalf of HSI/Korea found that 81.6% of Koreans agreed to the need for legislative support to develop and disseminate alternatives to animal testing.

HSI/Korea senior policy manager Borami Seo said: “Save Ralph is a wake-up call for the public and policymakers that animals are still suffering in the name of science, and we have a  responsibility to do better. Whether it’s testing to assess consumer safety or to study human disease, innovative technologies can simulate human biology more accurately than experiments on rodents, dogs or other animals. We are living in an era that celebrates innovation, and it’s time for Korean research and central ministries to commit to a future without animal testing.”

Additionally, from April 27-29, a #SaveRalph exhibition will be held at the National Assembly, co-organized by Assembly member In-soon Nam and HSI/Korea.

Watch Save Ralph with Korean subtitles and sign the petition online and at Lush Korea shops across Korea.


Media contact: Borami Seo, senior policy manager in research and toxicology:


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