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Appeal sought after Korea’s serial cat killer walks free

Screenshot of video footage from the site where the 600 cats were killed over 13 months. Video footage by NocutV on YouTube.
James Hyams
Written by James Hyams


Prosecutors have appealed a judge’s decision not to imprison a man found guilty of killing 600 cats by boiling them alive, sources said Thursday.

On April 6, Judge Park Jeong-hoon of Changwon District Court sentenced the perpetrator, whose surname is Jeong, to 80 hours community service and 10 months imprisonment suspended for two years.

Jeong was found guilty of violating both the Animal Protection Act and the Food Sanitation Act.

Kim Era, head of the Korea Alliance for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KAPCA), is among the activists calling for a heavier punishment for the serial cat killer.

 “The ruling was too lenient,” Kim stressed, saying she expected him to receive a prison term. “There is a clause in the law which criminalizes animal cruelty.”

She said that only a handful of people have been convicted because the law requires those who have filed a complaint to have concrete proof that animals have been abused.

Cho Chang-hyun, a public relations judge of Changwon District Court, says that it was the first case where a person has been charged with butchering a large number of cats and that it was very difficult for the court to make the ruling.

He points out that many people in Korea are not aware that catching stray animals for meat or killing them in a brutal manner is a criminal offence.

 “Given that it was the first case where a large number of cats were slaughtered, the judge could have slapped the perpetrator with a prison term as a warning to others,” he says. “However, Judge Park gave him a suspended sentence as he had no previous convictions.”

Regardless, this ruling is consistent with other rulings regarding animal cruelty in South Korea.

“All previous offenders charged with cruelty on animals received a fine or a lighter punishment,” the Judge told The Korea Observer. “No one even received a suspended sentence.”

“This is because Koreans didn’t consider the humane treatment of animals until the animal protection law was enacted. Animal cruelty was regarded as property damage.”

Jeong could have received the maximum penalty under the animal protection law,which is a one-year prison term.

However, the judge gave a light sentence after considering Jeong’s circumstances despite the fact that the perpetrator made more than $13,000 over a year by conducting the illegal business.

According to Judge Park’s ruling, the defendant set up the traps on the roads in residential areas Kimhae-si, Gangseo-gu in Busan, Yangsan-si, and Hapcheon-gun.

“The defendant lured the cats by placing the fish cakes inside the traps and caught approximately six cats,” he said in reference to evidence gathered by police.

Screenshot of video footage from site of killing. Video footage by NocutV.

Screenshot of video footage from site of killing. Video footage by NocutV.

The judge said in his ruling that the defendant then put three to five cats into the plastic boxes, put the lids on so the cats cannot escape, and threw the cats alive in the boxes into the boiling water to kill them.

“From the beginning of February 2014 to around the 8th May, 2015, the defendant conducted the killing of 600 cats by using these cruel methods,” he said.

Jeong was selling the cat meat to Geongangwon owners at the 5-day markets in Gupo, Haman, and Yangsan.

KAPCA became aware that Jeong was trapping street cats last year.

They informed the police who followed up.

Police raided Jeong’s address in Gimhae and found bins full of cat organs and an industrial refrigerator full of an “unspecified meat,” which was later confirmed to be cat.

Jeong had no trouble selling the cat meat at the traditional markets as there is still demand for cat soup (gyeongi soju) in Korea.

Many members of the older population still believe that cat soup abates arthritis, although many medical experts disagree.

Another issue is that while article 8 of the Animal Protection Law bans inflicting cruelty to animals, it is very difficult to understand how the police and judicial system measure cruelty.

Kim, president of KAPCA, experiences this confusion first hand when reporting animal abuse cases.

“We reported a dog meat seller who kills dogs with a hammer to the police,” Kim said. “However, he was found innocent because his slaughtering method was not considered animal abuse under the Animal Protection Law.”

Animal activists are tired of animal abusers getting away with cruelty.

AJ Garcia, president of CARE, wants the cruelty to be defined under law to make prosecution easier.

“As it stands right now animal welfare laws are insufficient,” Garcia said. “I would like it to be a lot broader.”

“I would like it to include farm animals as well and I would like there to be a clause that defines animal cruelty and abuse to the extent of everything from the physical all the way to the mental impact that abuse and cruelty carry.”

The government estimates there are around 200,000 stray cats in Seoul and some residents welcome the reduction of street cats.

Twenty-five district councils have started a trap-neuter-return program (TNR) with city government support.

TNR programs are expected to help reduce the cat population in the future without harming the cats.

Individuals, called cat mums, try to ensure the street cats are healthy with many travelling throughout their provinces feeding them after work.

One animal activist and cat mum, Saemi Han, takes two hours each evening to feed the entire neighbourhood street cats around Sookmyung University.

She does this because she feels it is her duty and no one else is doing it in her area.

“Who else is going to feed and care for these cats if I don’t? They are living [beings] and should be treated well but they are not. They don’t deserve to be hungry or in pain,” Han said.

She says more needs to be done to reduce the number of street cats in Seoul and residents should take personal responsibility to ensure the success of the TNR program.

Despite the efforts of cat mums and local councils, some residents view cats as vermin and try to kill them by mixing poison in with food left for cats.

This case will be heard later this year in the high court on appeal.



Changwon-District-Court-written-judgment – In English. Translated by Euigoo Kang for The Korea Observer.

창원지방법원_2015고단212811-4 (1) – In Korean. Original document, supplied by the court judge.

About the author

James Hyams

James Hyams

James Hyams juggles several careers including being a journalist and a social worker. James has an avid interest in 'telling it as it is', exposing matters of public interest, and reviving investigative journalism in the new digital era. Testimony to this is his thesis titled: “U.S. Government secrecy and the withering watchdog: Is WikiLeaks the answer?”

  • Concerned Citizen

    Will someone please throw Jeong in boiling water and rid the earth of this monster!

  • wiggle

    Does anyone know what happened to the eighteen cats found alive? Is there somewhere to donate towards their well-being?

  • Linda Boyce


  • Dubois Marie

    South Korea is full of Zombis,no heart only stomach … I hate this country and boycott Korea, all I can ….. DOGS ARE GODS , Stop eating Beautifull creatures …

  • SweetFannyAdams

    Cruelty to animals in most of the Asian countries, inclusding Korea, is widespread. Most of the populations of these countries are very backward and ignorant people. They lack any kind of empathy to animals because of being raised to think animals don’t have feelings or can suffer mental and physical pain. They lack the intelligence and compassion to see for themselves the real truth of the matter.I consider most of these kinds of people to be the SCUM of the EARTH and no better than the people of the Stone Age.

    • wiggle

      I don’t think racism is the answer. Much of the fight against cruelty to animals in Korea is done by Koreans and people of Korean descent.

      • Adrian Shiva

        He/she is not being racist. Racism would be if we were to express differences of worth simply by ethnicity. That isn’t what is happening here; it is about sentiments and practices.

        The truth is that South Korea does deserve all the shaming and criticism, as a people/nation and as a government. It is led by a government that is condoning and allowing these animal cruelty atrocities, and the culture of them, and rightly earn the criticism as being a nation of scum. The few good Koreans who do oppose the cruelty are being failed by their own country.

        Cats in South Korea especially have a very, very difficult time, since many South Koreans shun cats, lure them to torture/murder them, etc. Much of it stems from ridiculous superstitions that cats are malicious, evil creatures.

  • Anti-Fur

    OMG! We’re definitely walking among most despicable monsters in this world. Their full names, photos and locations need to be made public because these are the psychopaths can commit any kind of crimes against living being. The despicable judge’s photo and info should also be known worldwide.

  • Cynthia Mattera

    These poor cats suffered tremendous pain and agony at the hands of this monster! Its time this country takes animal abuse more seriously instead of turning a blind eye. Its disgusting and evil that your country allows people to torture, beat, boil, and skin alive Gods creatures. Shame on all of you who do this, and shame to the authorities who are allowing it to happen every day!

  • wiggle
  • Joshua Lorenzo Newett

    Gyeongi soju means soju from Gyeongi province. Cat soup would be called
    고양이 수프 , goyangi soup or goyangi tong.

  • Lisa Scharin

    Writing from the USA, I see many Koreans as horrific lowlifes! To treat innocent animals that have been companion animals for centuries is abominable!!!
    The Korean Government and it’s people should know that because of the dog & cat “meat” trade-they are considered one of the most heinous countries on this planet!!
    By allowing this to continue-you show the world you are barbaric and savage and lack compassion and mercy!!!
    To many you are GODless, immoral and demons!!!! I boycott Korean products-as do many of my friends.
    I would also like to say that to GO VEGAN would elevate the suffering of BILLIONS of animals every year-along with helping save our planet from the pollution, water, land use it takes to raise animals as “food”. We could feed 800,000 people with the grain we feed animals every year.
    Animal agriculture is also a major contributor to climate change and wildlife extinction! Time to WAKE UP!!!!!
    Eating a plant-based diet is MUCH healthier, more humane and more sustainable!!!

  • notinline

    Come on North Korea, what’re you waiting for??

    signed, an American Citizen

  • Kerry-Jane Butler

    firstly I will never understand the want to eat dogs and cats that come out of those disgusting filthy farms but mostly the absolute cruelty the conditions the pain, suffering, torture etc and the horrendous horrific skinning alive beating electrocuting and boiling alive animals HOW CAN ANYONE EAT WHAT EVER IS LEFT those savages that have the check to call themselves farmers they are nothing but evil barbaric things the lowest of any life 🙁

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