KAPS – Beginnings
Many of you know the beginning of this story, but for those that do not: In 1988 my sister, Sunnan Kum, contacted me while I was living in the US. She wanted help launching a worldwide campaign to save Korean dogs and cats from being tortured and slaughtered for consumption. Sunnan was the first person to publicly campaign for Korean dogs and cats and had also been rescuing animals on her own in the meantime.
I wanted to help, so I reached out to many world organizations and, with the assistance of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, moved back to Korea in 1990. In 1991, while I was working with the Korean government to pass the first Korean Animal Protection Law, my sister and I established the Korean Animal Protection Society (KAPS) as the first animal organization in Korea with dog and cat shelters.
Non-profit animal organizations were brand new to Korean culture, and Sunnan struggled for many years to keep KAPS running. It was difficult financially and also took a toll on her already poor health. For the last two years her daughter, Sueyoun Cho, has been running KAPS in her mother’s place. Early this year KAPS was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and having to shut down completely, which would have meant relocating the remaining dogs and cats still in KAPS shelters to prevent their euthanization. It was a very sad and stressful time. Luckily, I received some very good news this summer. Mrs. Jung Ah Choi, a long-time volunteer for KAPS, was willing to take over KAPS, assume its financial troubles, and revive the organization.
I am so grateful we have found Mrs. Choi. She is an incredibly compassionate, hard-working, energetic, and self-sufficient woman. She is financially secure and dedicates almost all of her time, energy, and resources to helping animals. She lives in Busan makes the 2 hour commute to Daegu almost every single day.
17 years ago, when Mrs. Choi was in college, she rescued a stray cat and contacted KAPS. Since then she has been a volunteer there, helping at the Daegu shelter. She also rescues many cats in Busan and uses one of her properties as a cat adoption center. Right now it houses 63 cats and 1 dog. She is also dedicated to rescuing dogs but finds the situation a bit more difficult.
She has told me that she feels some satisfaction seeing the way younger generations of Koreans are much more concerned about animal protection and the progress that has been made for animals, but she still feels incredible pain over the persistence of the brutal dog and cat meat trade.
After construction of the new KAPS dog and cat adoption centers have finished, she plans to open a cat café to help fund the cat adoption center and introduce cats to potential adopters. Mrs. Choi has a very progressive attitude toward learning animal care and shelter practices from outside countries (a rare thing in Korea), and she plans to work with the government in order to make the capture and selling of stray dogs and cats to the meat markets completely illegal. She also plans to campaign against the animal cruelty carried out by pet shops, puppy mills, and dog breeders.
We are very grateful to Mrs. Choi’s dedication to our cause and are excited to see where she takes KAPS in the future!