For Immediate Release:

13 January 2020

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

Sydney – After a police investigation – prompted by the release of a covert video filmed by PETA US 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 (roughly $6,250) 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 abattoir in Korea, owned by the national corporation Nonghyup.

The PETA US undercover investigation video “K-Cruelty”, which was released in May 2019, shows that horses – some of whom had been cast off by the racing industry – were repeatedly beaten in the face as they were forced into the abattoir to be killed for their flesh. Some were slaughtered in front of other panicked horses, which violates South Korea’s Animal Protection Act. Three Australian-born horses, including the son of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, were filmed, and previous slaughter records confirm that a half-brother to Winx was also slaughtered in Korea.

On 11 and 12 December 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 organisation Voice for Animals.

Astonishingly, the workers and horse transporters who were filmed viciously beating horses in the face weren’t 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 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that the act of beating animals is a violation of Korean law.

Dr Park notes that the prosecutor might have misinterpreted the cruelty clause, pointing to a similar case from November 2019 in which 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 (roughly $2,500) 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 occur, 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 US 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 – praised the prosecutors for the unprecedented convictions but cautioned that they didn’t go far enough.

“It’s appalling that South Korea, a civilised country, did not prosecute such egregious cruelty as beating horses in the face,” says PETA spokesperson Emily Rice. “The Australian racing industry must no longer sell horses to South Korea and then turn its back, knowing these animals and their offspring will likely end up hanging by one leg in an abattoir.”

Broadcast-quality extended footage from PETA’s Korean horse abattoir exposé is available here.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.au.