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

For Immediate Release:
June 27, 2019

Hà Nội — South Korean investor Charmvit Group is expected to build a racetrack complex in Sóc Sơn District, Hà Nội, costing more than 9 trillion dong. However, most owners and trainers of horses used in racing have little more than a short-term financial interest in the animals, and there’s little accountability when it comes to the treatment of retired Thoroughbreds, who suffer terribly when they’re no longer profitable. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) U.S. has released eyewitness video footage from a 10-month investigation exposing the widespread slaughter of Thoroughbred horses for meat in South Korea.

The video shows castoffs from the racing industry and other horses being beaten repeatedly in the face as they’re forced into the slaughterhouse and killed for meat. 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 Korea Racing Authority (KRA) to implement a comprehensive retirement plan for unwanted horses modeled on the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in the U.S.

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 deemed suitable for other equestrian uses. Most are sent to 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 them 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’d arrived together were prodded to force them into the slaughterhouse, and one was stunned and hoisted by one foot right in front of his companion—which is also a violation of the Animal Protection Act.

“Horses used for racing around the world are the victims of a profit-driven industry in which they’re seen as nothing more than commodities to be bought, sold, and tossed aside when they’re no longer making money,” says PETA U.S. Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “Those used for Vietnam’s racing industry will suffer the same fate if the chair of Hà Nội People’s Committee, Nguyễn Đức Chung, doesn’t prevent the proposed racetrack from being built.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is working hard to tackle horseracing cruelty.

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