Apparently Korea is contemplating doing some limited whaling along the coast of Korea for scientific purposes.  According to this article by Richard Black for BBC:

Hunting would take place near the Korean coast on minke whales. How many would be caught is unclear.

The South Korean delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) said the research was needed “for the proper assessment of whale stocks”.


Given that fact, “we believe that scientific whaling on this stock borders on the reckless,” New Zealand’s delegation head, Gerard van Bohemen said.

But Joon-Suk Kang, the head of the South Korean delegation, said the programme was necessary to answer questions about minke whale stocks that non-lethal research had been unable to solve.

But why is this research needed you ask?

The Koreans’ eventual stated aim is to prepare the ground for a resumption of “coastal whaling” – a rather vague concept that Japan is also pursuing, and that would see whale hunting return as a normal activity.

Of course, there are also the claims that the whales are eating too many fish and depriving Korean fishermen of their livelihood.  ABC reports:

“As a result, fishermen in this area are consistently calling for limited whaling,” it said.

“This is because they are experiencing disturbances in their fishing activities due to frequent occurrences of cetaceans in their fishing grounds and an increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amount of fish stocks which should be consumed by human being.”

There are other reasons including the need to provide whale meat for that small part of the population that craves it  needs it because it is a part of Korea’s tradition (?).  According to this article by AFP, Mr. Kang provides the answer:

South Korea’s head envoy Kang Joon-Suk said consumption of whale meat “dates back to historical times” in his country and that the minke whale population had recovered since a 1986 global moratorium went into effect.

“Legal whaling has been strictly banned and subject to strong punishments, though the 26 years have been painful and frustrating for the people who have been traditionally taking whales for food,” he told the conference.

On the other hand, it could also be because of its reputed health benefits.  While there may have been a small number of Koreans who consumed whale meat during the Joseon period – they were not actively harvested.  One of the earliest whaling operations in Korea by the Russians took place in 1889.  It is to my understanding that it was the Japanese who really got whale meat consumption by Koreans going after Korea was annexed.

We have talked about whaling on The Hole before – Koreans and Whale meat MH. April 16, 2012

(HT – Year of the Dragon, Hamel and anyone else on The Hole  who feels slighted – said with a smile)