But Prosecutors Fail to Punish Workers Who Beat Horses in the Face; PETA and Voice for Animals Demand Full Justice

For Immediate Release:
January 7, 2020

Jeju — After a police investigation—prompted by the release of a covert video filmed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) U.S. showing shocking abuse and slaughter of horses in South Korea—the Jeju Livestock Cooperative Association and two of its employees have been fined KRW 5 million (approximately US$4,300) each for killing horses right in front of other horses. This is the first time a South Korean company or its workers have been prosecuted for illegally killing horses. Jeju Livestock Cooperative Association operates the largest horse slaughterhouse in Korea, owned by the national corporation Nonghyup.

The PETA U.S. undercover investigation video “K-Cruelty,” which was released in May 2019, shows that retired racehorses and other horses were repeatedly beaten in the face as they were forced into the slaughterhouse to be killed for their flesh. Some were slaughtered in front of other panicked horses, which violates South Korea’s Animal Protection Act.

On December 11 and 12, 2019, the Jeju District Prosecutor’s Office released documents detailing the unprecedented convictions and penalties. These redacted documents, which are in Korean, are available upon request by contacting Dr. Changkil Park of the Korean animal protection organization Voice for Animals.

Astonishingly, the workers and horse transporters who were filmed viciously beating horses in the face were not prosecuted. Voice for Animals argues that the rationale given for this—that no financial loss resulted from an attack by the animals—is unacceptable. Moreover, according to the released documents, the prosecutor in charge dismissed the explicit opinion from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that the act of beating animals is a violation of Korean law.

Dr. Park claims that the prosecutor might have misinterpreted the cruelty clause, pointing to a similar example in November 2019, when a 29-year-old man in Korea was sentenced to four months in prison plus two years of probation for beating his dog during a live YouTube broadcast. Prosecutors also levied KRW 2 million (approximately US$1,700) in fines and ordered him to undertake 160 hours of community social service. Dr. Park asserts that the workers and drivers who beat the horses and the Jeju Livestock Cooperative Association, which permitted such routine abuse to happen, need to be held accountable and receive similar penalties—otherwise, workers will continue to treat horses cruelly, believing that they have impunity based on an erroneous interpretation of the law. PETA U.S. and Voice for Animals will be submitting an appeal of dissatisfaction.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—offered praise to the prosecutors for the unprecedented convictions but cautioned that they did not go far enough.

“It’s appalling that South Korea, a civilized country, did not prosecute such egregious cruelty as beating horses in the face,” says PETA U.S. Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo.

Broadcast-quality extended footage from PETA U.S.’ Korean horse slaughterhouse investigation is available here.

For more information, please visit PETAAsia.com.