speaking out – for animals in Korea

There is an on-going merciless holocaust taking place, across the entire world, involving torture, brutality and death on an industrial scale. It’s partly hidden, partly just accepted, and though trying to do what little I can about it has been an important part of my life for the past three decades (since first becoming vegetarian), it’s not something I’ve brought up here on this blog – until now.

And even now, I’m not going to trot out the usual arguments and Buddha quotes supporting the non-killing and non-eating of animals. Rather, I just want to help publicise a campaign against one recent aspect of this daily nightmare which specifically concerns Korea, and which I’m sure all readers, vegetarian or otherwise, will also support.

According to the Asia-Pacific branch of PETA, since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in late 2010, approximately 1 million animals have been killed in Korea, many of them buried alive in mass graves. Large numbers of pigs have been dumped from trucks into pits and then covered in soil, where they slowly suffocate to death.

Some animals remain alive in air pockets but are unable to move, sometimes for days, before they eventually die from trauma, starvation, or dehydration. Using live burial as a disease-control method violates both the domestic animal protection law and Korea’s obligations under the World Organization for Animal Health’s Guidelines on the Killing of Animals for Disease Control Purposes.

PETA has contacted the relevant Korean authorities to ask for a more humane death for these animals but has received no response. And so are now asking for individuals around the world to contact South Korean embassies to ask officials to pressure the South Korean government to immediately stop burying animals alive and implement humane ways of dealing with the disease.

A suggested letter follows, but it is always better to personalise it, especially the subject line:

I was so disappointed and outraged to learn that a country like Korea, which is known for its forward thinking and modernity, is trying to contain foot-and-mouth disease in such a barbaric way.
Burying innocent animals alive is simply cruel, immoral, and illegal!
These animals slowly suffocate to death in the absence of air.
Worse still, improper burial often allows for air pockets to form, and many animals remain alive, sometimes for days, but are unable to move.
Until this cruel practice is stopped, I will tell my friends and neighbors not to visit South Korea.
Please use your position of influence to help those in need.

I personaly will be emailing the Korean embassy here in Thailand (where I live) this afternoon. And I urge all readers of Wake Up and Laugh to contact the Korean embassy in their countries as soon as possible too. It is, surely, time to speak out.

——-
Link:
PETA: Tell Korea to Stop Burying Animals Alive!

Updates:
1) Thanks to Chong Go Sunim and Adam at Fly Like a Crow, here’s a report of a memorial service for the 1.9 million animals killed, held at the main temple of the Jogye Order in Seoul. One of the banners read “It must have been painful and you cried a lot. I hope that you go to a good place and enjoy happiness.”

2) There’s another report of the same memorial service on the website of the Jogye Order with some excellent photos, including one I’ve used here. During the service Ven. Hyechong said “Lord Buddha taught us to consider all sentient beings as our parents. If beings were to understand that we are born in different circumstances according to our karma, then we could create a Pure Land where we recognize each others’ value.”

8 thoughts on “speaking out – for animals in Korea”

  1. One of the evening news programs broke this story here a week or two ago, and it horrified a lot of people. I’m not sure what the current status is, but I’m pretty sure they’ve stopped doing this. I’ve heard calls for vacination programs, (perhaps that’s a way to avoid the slaughter?) and if I heard it correctly, the governer of the province where this happened has resigned.

    Can you imagine the guys who are doing this work? I suspect it’s people who’ve been out of work for a while and lower-level government officials who’ve been shifted to deal with this crisis. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d been expected to slaugher the animals by hand, ie knives. What a terrible job.

  2. In which case this post will now be redundant (thank goodness) – but PETA Asia only sent out news of this campaign today, so perhaps it’s still happening? Any updates you hear would be much appreciated Sunim!

    1. I’ll try to look into it tomorrow. It was pretty shocking to most people here. I mean, a lot of people can kind of put “slaughter” out of mind, because that’s what happens to these poor animals anyway. But “buried alive” really pulled at people’s hearts, I think.

      I’d also really like to know if anyone knows whether vaccination is a viable alternative for hoof and mouth disease.

      EDIT: Here’s a link to a story about a memorial service for the spirits of the animals held at the headquarters for the Jogye Order in Seoul. (Thanks to Adam at Fly Like a Crow for this link)
      http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jZYgaja_h1ssTjfFIjLTG320dHVg?docId=5692901

    1. Okay, here’s some more info about the hoof-and-mouth disease outbreak here in Korea, via the Wall Street Journal, Jan 11 (It’s a very good article about what’s going on.)

      “The outbreak is the most serious in Korea’s history,” said Kim Jae-hong, a veterinary science professor at Seoul National University. “It is hard to predict when we can contain the spread of the disease, but the most important thing right now is to control movement in and out of the farmhouses that are affected, and thoroughly disinfect the cars around the area,” he added.

      Vaccinations can work, but they’re almost so complex as to be useless for a quick responce:

      “Vaccinations against the disease are available but…. must be matched to the specific type and subtype of virus causing the outbreak. In South Korea, officials are scrambling to vaccinate unaffected animals to prevent the further spread of the disease.”

      EDIT: Here’s an article that claims preemptive vaccinations can work. Not sure how credible it is, but the writer lays out some alternative stratagies to just killing all the animals in the area.

      Likewise, they are saying that the buried-alive incidents were few. If this is true, well, it’s not what I’d normally call good news, but at least there’s less suffering:

      “Veterinarians and agriculture officials in some areas are also overwhelmed by the scale of the culls. Local media reported incidents of swine being buried alive to speed up the killing, and an agriculture ministry official on Tuesday confirmed some incidents but said they have been few.

      ‘Officials are rushed to stop the spread, and the number of people involved is too small for the operation,’ Mr. Kim said.”

      The farmers involved are also suffering quite a bit.

      The disease has damaged the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers, however. The government compensates farmers for livestock killed as a result of efforts to contain the disease, but farmers argue the pay isn’t enough.

      Kim Hee-dong, a farmer in Pocheon, a small city northeast of Seoul, said authorities culled his 465 head of cattle on Dec. 30 and 31, then dug four large holes in his field to bury them.

      “I just couldn’t watch it. But I was asked to go out briefly to check out the holes, whether they were all right, and had to witness about 100 head of my cattle lying dead,” he said. “I fainted at that moment and was taken to the hospital.”

  3. Hi,

    For the latest situation, see here: http://animalrightskorea.org/news-articles/

    FMD Cull Numbers as of January 30, 2011:

    Total = 2,941,533 (5,216 farms)

    Cattle = Cattle: 146,035 (3,497 farms)
    Pigs = 2,788,437 (1,412 farms, 95% of the total culling and 28% of the total number of pigs raised in Korea as of December 2010.)
    Goats: 4,431 (180 farms)
    Deer: 2,650 (127 farms)

    Number of cases: 146 in 64 cities and regions

    Around 100,000 animals have been buried alive every day.

    So, yes, the slaughter, and the live burials, seem to be still happening.

    Buried alive

  4. HI, BROTHERS IN THE DHARMA: I HAVE ALREADY SENT TO ALL MY MAILS AMGOS KNOWN AND ARE IN ANY FORM CONTACT humane societies, CENTERS, JOURNALISTS AND OTHER, AND WITH THE CHINESE Buddhist temple “FOR GUANG SHAN”, A VIEW WE CAN DO.

    THIS BRINGS ME A MEMORY OF A LADY TO BE WITH YOU ASKED ME TO SACRIFICE A SAUSAGE DOG THAT WAS SICK distemper. I KNEW THE ANIMAL. My friend and played together. PROBRE WAS THE BAD, BEAUTIFUL HERA. EVEN TRY TO HELP WITH REIKI, BUT THERE WAS NO CASE. THIS REALLY makes me very sad. BROTHERS PEACE OF HEART

    ALEJANDRO (MUN HYE)

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