2-3 days ago, these two topics were in the top three search words in the news item in the Korean news portal Daum, both to do with animal rights, which is rather close to my heart.
The first piece concerns the rise in the public interest in 동물복지/방목 eggs, which was triggered by a KBS TV consumer report (aired 8th March 2013) which delved into the current practice of egg-farming. The effect of the newly introduced (July 2012) government scheme which awards marks to egg farms in which the chickens are raised in a happier environment (be it larger space, or “free-range”), and the rise of consumers in Korea who are actually demanding the well-being of the animals.
The second piece of news concerns the public outrage following the exposure during an interview with a military official who unwittingly admitted to the military dogs being sent to veterinary schools for use in the medical experiments at the end of their working life. The use of ex-service and ex-military dogs in such experiments is expressedly forbidden by the animal rights law, and this violation has brought on a campaign to bring to light the number of dogs affected and those responsible.
In the last few years, I have really been thinking hard almost every day on the questions, ranging from a consumer’s perpective to a dog owner’s point of view. The least bit of difference I could make was to pay around 2000 won more for half a dozen eggs (around 1.5 euros more).
I’m glad that Korean consumers are also willing to do the same. As I see time and time again (pigs down the river news from China), the (mis)treatment of animals and the concern with animal rights is something that transcends culture and speaks of something so fundamental in ourselves.
A few years ago in Korea, there was a fad of “WELL BEING” which meant that one could see the bloody catch-phrase in almost everything from apartment complexes to ddubokis which drove me up the wall. WTF is a 웰빙떡볶이? Well, finally the right usage of the word and the interest in WELL-BEING of animals will come home to roost in Korea.