PETA U.S. Investigation Exposes the Tragic Fate of Racehorses Exported to South Korea

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2019

Jeju — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) U.S. has released undercover video footage from a 10-month investigation exposing the widespread slaughter of Thoroughbred racehorses in South Korea.

The video shows castoffs from the racing industry and other horses beaten repeatedly in the face as they’re forced into the slaughterhouse and killed for their flesh. PETA U.S. and Voice4Animals are asking the District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Jeju to prosecute those who violated the Animal Protection Act and calling on the Korean Racing Authority (KRA) to implement a comprehensive retirement plan for unwanted horses modeled on the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in the U.S.

South Koreans bet over ₩9.3 trillion annually on races, and the KRA aggressively imports and breeds horses in an attempt to gain international recognition. The KRA registered 1,767 horses in 2018—1,360 foals and 407 imported horses. However, the Korean racing industry discards as many horses as it brings in, and KRA’s Dr. Jinkap Kim stated that while over 1,600 horses are “retired” each year, only about 3% are “retrained.” Most are sent for slaughter, usually at the Nonghyup slaughterhouse on Jeju Island, where horsemeat restaurants abound.

This first-of-its-kind investigation shows horses shaking in fear as they arrive at Nonghyup, many covered with mud and burrs, some bleeding, and one with a leg wrap, indicating that he had come straight from the racetrack. Workers beat horses mercilessly to get them to enter the slaughterhouse. A 3-year-old filly was repeatedly struck in the face, and two mares were beaten for almost three minutes straight. These are violations of the South Korean Animal Protection Act. Two Thoroughbreds who had arrived together were prodded to get them to walk into the slaughterhouse, and Air Blade’s companion, filly Royal River, was stunned and hoisted by one foot right in front of him—which is also a violation of the Animal Protection Act.

“If the KRA redirected just half a percent of horse-racing wagers per year to equine retirement—a tiny fraction of the profit that it makes off the backs of these horses—this would spare thousands of retired racing horses a hideous death,” says PETA U.S. Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—was able to identify 22 ex-racehorses at the slaughterhouse as well as Jeju ponies, Halla horses, and other equines. Most were between 2 and 6 years old, and even expensive pedigrees couldn’t save them: Famous sires of slaughtered horses include Medaglia d’Oro and Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.

PETA U.S. also documented that horses with injuries were kept at Nokwon Farm and the KRA Stud Farm and a filthy horsemeat farm from which one of the racehorses and several other horses seen slaughtered at Nonghyup came.

Photographs from the investigation and broadcast-quality video footage from the investigation are available upon request. For more information, please visit