continue to catch,
breed, and slaughter
these animals for
It's time to put an end to this slaughter.
We normally send out our newsletter once per year but I couldn’t wait to give you the good news from Korea. On January 7th 2024 the Korean Parliament passed a bill banning the farming of dogs and the sale of dog meat. The Special Act to ban dog meat will begin a three-year phaseout, ending legal dog farming and the sale of dog meat by 2027. The bill was passed with rare bipartisan support, signaling a major cultural shift of the Korean people.
When I heard the news that the law was being proposed I thought it would take a while to pass, I was not expecting the announcement so soon. After decades of campaigning for the welfare of Korean dogs, I cannot truly convey the joy I feel at this moment. I know this does not solve all the problems but it must be recognized as a major victory for the cause and an enormous leap in progress.
It has been a long, tough road. My sister, Sunnan Kum, was the first person to advocate for banning dog meat consumption and for rescuing dogs and cats in Korea starting in 1989. I was living in the US then, and she reached out asking me to help her with the work, which I did. Back then Korea’s attitude towards dogs and cats was very different. Cats were not considered pets but were treated like vermin and considered evil creatures, the way some placers view rats today.
From 1990 through 1996 I was back in Korea to better help Sunnan with the animal protection work. With the support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, we got the first Korean animal protection law passed in 1991. It was a superficial law and almost totally unenforceable but it was better than nothing considering the state of animal welfare at the time.
In 1992 we established the first Animal Protection Society. We tried to work with the government, the national media, and the Korean people to advance our cause and enact change but were met with a lot of resistance. These changes were seen as pressures from outside the country to change and clashed with Korean’s deeply proud and nationalistic attitudes. I do somewhat understand the Korean attitude against foreign interference as Korea has suffered many invasions by Japan and China as well as 36 years of Japanese occupation.
After I returned to California, I established IAKA to help plan and fund a worldwide campaign after a congressman tried to introduce a law fully legalizing dog meat and dog farming. The campaign prevented the legalization of dog meat but saw no other changes.We determined that international campaigns and demonstrations were of very little actual use, and sometimes caused Koreans to be reactive and intentionally start consuming more dog meat. So we stopped working towards those goals around 2003.
Since that time I have been working with local Korean animal shelters and animal rescues to make sure they are moving in the right direction. To help make sure they have the resources to educate people, feed and house their animals, afford medical care, and run spay/neuter operations. For a long time I did not have any hope for legally banning dog meat consumption, but I have noted a change in the social attitudes of a majority of the Korean population, especially in the last few years, toward dogs and cats – with an increase in pet ownership and a significant decrease in dog meat consumption. The current President and First Lady of Korea are noted animal lovers and have been vocal advocates for animal welfare reform. There has also been an increase in the number of animal welfare groups and animal rescues/shelters in Korea.
I would like to take a moment to express gratitude toward the many animal rescues and shelters working on the ground in Korea at this moment, to the various animal advocacy groups in Korea, to the President and First Lady for supporting great progress from their position of power, and most expressly to you – the many supporters of IAKA who fought for, and hoped, and believed that a moment like this was possible. I am so overjoyed to share this moment with you and so grateful for your support.
Kyenan Kum, IAKA Founder
The Korean Dog Meat Issue has been known to the world since early 1984. Many international organizations organized protests, letter writing campaigns, and other actions but these did almost nothing to stop dog meat consumption in Korea. Because of this, I organized IAKA in 1997.
In 2000, a member of the Korean National Assembly proposed fully legalizing dog-meat and classifying it as livestock meat. In reaction to this I began heavily organizing international campaigns and protests all over Europe and Australia. I attempted to organize and get support in the United States as well but was unsuccessful. The US wanted to maintain strong political ties to South Korea and so these issues received almost no attention from major US Media outlets. IAKA was very successful in the UK and received a lot of support and we were able to stop the classification of dogs as livestock from going through.
I continued with international campaigns and protests until 2008, when I began to realize that they were largely ineffective. Many Koreans, especially ones who wanted to be seen as resisting international pressures to change, were going out and actually consuming more dog meat. They felt angry at foreigners interfering with what they saw as a part of their culture. At that time I thought it would be most effective if the pressures to change were being led by Koreans themselves. That would eliminate the excuse of resisting unwanted foreign influence and the change could be seen as a complete cultural shift.
This process feels much slower, and I know it will take a long time to meaningfully reduce the scale of cruelty and slaughter experienced by Korean animals, but I truly believe supporting the operations of Korean animal rescue groups, operating on the ground in Korea, and run by Korean animal lovers is the best and most effective path forward. That is why, since 2008, IAKA has shifted its main focus away from organizing international protests and campaigns and moved toward supporting Koreans struggling to start up animal shelters, run TNR operations, fund the medical care of rescued animals, and also to run animal care education programs for the people.
Over the past several years we have seen a noticeable shift in Korean’s attitude toward dog and cat farming and eating practices. Dog farms, meat markets, and restaurants are in decline – though they do still exist in a legal “grey” area. There has been an increase in the percentage of Koreans who wish to see the practice banned altogether, noticeably among the younger generations. As with most societal shifts, the changes are slower than what we would like, but the progress is there and measurable, and picking up momentum. And there is hope that since these changes are taking place at a social level and working their way up, that they will be more permanent and pervasive.
We have assisted many organizations with medical expenses, financing spay/neuter/TNR programs, or with the costs of relocating to better facilities. We have found that the most measurable and direct work is being done by these organizations (and not international ‘rescue’ organizations – many of whom tend to use the plight of Korean animals as a fundraising tool without contributing anything other than a symbolic adoption or two to the cause). We provide regular updates on the shelters and rescues we choose to support, most of which are founded and operated by Koreans. We work hard to pick responsible, caring organizations that focus on rescue, rehabilitation, and permanently rehoming Korean dogs and cats.
We will be posting stories from two of the Korean organizations we worked to support this year, Hug Me Shelter and Rebel Rescue. Through your generosity, IAKA was able to help both of them financially this last year – and we intend to continue to do so moving forward.
If you would like to learn more about them or help them directly you can do so via the links below:
Hug Me Shelter: https://www.facebook.com/hugmedogshelter/
PayPal : firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebel Rescue South Korea: https://rebelrescuesk.com/financially-foster/
IAKA has been supporting the work of Mr. Sungguen Rha and his wife Shizuka Nakahira, and Hug Me Shelter for a few years now. This last year Hug Me attempted to register as a non-profit organization with the Korean government. They were denied because they were considered too small of an operation – they could only house 12 dogs at a time.
Thanks to your generosity, IAKA has been providing financial support for spay/neuter operations and other medical expenses. With the new location secured and under renovation, they have reapplied for non-profit status and their application is currently pending.
After several months of searching, Hug Me Shelter secured a new location with more space and a large lot. They were able to make the security deposit thanks to an incredibly generous $30,000 Loan from a supporter. The renovations and monthly operational expenses will be very costly and they have begun fundraising to support those efforts. The new space will allow them to house many more animals and facilitate more adoptions and vet operations than before.
In the meantime, Hug Me Shelter continues to rescue dogs from farms, local government shelters, and animal hoarders in order to facilitate their rehabilitation and adoption.
Robert, an expatriate of the Netherlands, and his Korean-born wife, Boram, visited Hug Me Shelter two years ago. They adopted Saburo, a white-colored dog rescued from a junkyard hoarder. They moved back to the Netherlands and Saburo went with them.
In April of this year, while visiting Mrs. Boram’s family, they went with Mr. Rha Sungguen to visit the same junkyard where Saburo was rescued from. There were two dogs there, now named Lotte and Candy, tied to rusted oil drums. They looked very similar to Saburo and, despite their condition, the dogs were incredibly playful and friendly.
They had to return home to the Netherlands the next day but they expressed interest in adopting Lotte to Mr. Rha. It took a few months but Hug Me Shelter was able to secure both Lotte and Candy from the junkyard. They got the proper food, care, and training. In June of this year Lotte went to his forever home with Robert, Boram, and Saburo. Candy is currently in a foster home awaiting her adoption as well.
This year, Rebel Rescue saw a large increase in animal rescue intakes. The winter of 2022-2023 was particularly cold and harsh in Korea. Volunteers there have been hard at work every day ensuring all the animals are clean, warm, fed, and have fresh water that isn’t frozen. Another hard winter is expected this year and they’ve already begun preparing.
This coming year, Rebel Rescue intends to move to a new location (like Hug Me Shelter) with more facilities and more space. That way they can increase the number of dogs and cats that they are able to take in and care for. These moves are always massive endeavors, and require a lot of work from volunteers and financing from supporters.
Rebel Rescue has also partnered with Dan from Trusted Companion Dog Training and Alisha from Arc K-9 Training to provide increased socialization and training for the dogs at the shelter. They are not only working with the dogs but are also training the Rebel Rescue staff and volunteers to learn better handling and recognizing dog body language.
This socialization, training, and group play will greatly increase the chances for more of the dogs to get adopted, as many of them come to shelters unsocialized or having suffered serious trauma and abuse.
Alisha in particular has been a blessing to Rebel Rescue this year. She has worked with dogs at the shelter, boarded and trained some of the dogs in her own home, and has even begun taking some of the dogs for special training at the American Red Cross on the US Military base.
Attached are some photos and videos of the dogs’ training and socialization. Alisha, the trainer from Arc K9 Training in the videos, has been a blessing to us this year. She has been able to work with the dogs at the shelter, board and train some of the dogs at her home, and start training them at the American Red Cross on the military post.