Animals Editor's Picks National

HSI fails to permanently transition dog farmer out of keeping dogs

A dog found on a farm whose owner allegedly agreed to stop dog farming in Ilsan on Oct. 3. Photo: The Korea Observer
James Hyams
Written by James Hyams

An international animal welfare agency’s move to demonstrate the possibility of dog farmers in South Korea transitioning into ethical industries has taken a blow with a farmer caught with dogs on his property again.

Humane Society International (HSI) announced in January that dog farmer Jung Moon-suk surrendered all 23 of his dogs in exchange for $2,500 so that he can start a blueberry business on the land where he kept the dogs.

Jung, however, told the Korea Observer that HSI and media provided the public inaccurate information about his farm and his agreement with HSI.

“I was already running a blueberry farm. I wasn’t running a dog farm,” Jung said.

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Oct. 3. Photo: The Korea Observer

“I had many dogs simply because I like animals and some of my dogs had puppies. I told them I would keep some.”

The farmer disputed that he was raising dogs for meat saying he used to raise dogs to protect his property and he would give puppies to neighbors.

HSI spokesperson Lola Webber said Jung told her that he would sell some of the dogs to local restaurants.

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Oct. 3. Photo: The Korea Observer

When reporters of The Korea Observer visited Jung’s farm last week, they found 10 dogs and two cats on his farm despite the agreement with HSI not to farm dogs.

Two cats and four of these dogs were caged. Another three dogs were chained to a pole under an enclosure and the remains of whole raw chickens could be seen around the dogs.

Three more dogs were chained up near the blueberry enclosure.

Jung is also raising many chickens, roosters, a duck, bush turkey, and a goat all living under cruel conditions either on a short chain or caged most without sanitary food or water.

“It is definitely concerning that he would have that number of dogs there,” HSI staff Adam Parascondola said.

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Oct. 3. Photo: The Korea Observer

HSI did not publicize the farmer had other livestock or that the farmer kept an additional “pet” Samoyed, which was housed in a small, restrictive cage when The Korea Observer was there.
“The dog you are calling a Samoyed was not in a cage when we were there,” Adam said.

He admits that HSI knew Jung had been running a blueberry farm.

“He did already have the blueberry farm, there is no doubt about that,” Adam said.

In January, HSI said in a press statement that “As part of the plan, HSI secured an agreement with him to stop raising dogs for food and move permanently to growing crops as a more humane way to make a living.”

Oct. 3. Photo: The Korea Observer

Oct. 3. Photo: The Korea Observer

HSI visited Jung’s farm in May to see how the farmer was going.

“He had the cats in May in a cage and they were kittens at the time. Our thought at that time was that when they are old enough he would let them out of the cage. We have concerns about him having cats in cages,” Adam said.

BK Zang, director of Animal Travel Agency and HSI’s driver when they were in Korea earlier this year, argues that HSI could not immediately help a dog farmer in Hongseong to surrender some 200 dogs, even after he expressed his intent to do so to HSI.

HSI returned to the Hongseong farm earlier this month and shut down the farm rescuing 103 dogs, which are now available for adoption in the U.S.

BK claims that “HSI came to Korea just for business, rather than to rescue animals.”

One of the most circulated claims is that HSI only rescues these dogs from South Korea to fundraise, a claim that HSI and its staff dispute.

HSI raised $9,289,762 last financial year according to information provided by independent NGO

That figure is not split into specific programs such as saving dogs in South Korea, China and Vietnam.

It cost nearly $85,000 for HSI to rescue, transport, provide healthcare, re-train and re-home 57 dogs during a rescue earlier this year.

“Humane Society International has invested hugely in this project and associated campaign- far more than has been fundraised,” Adam said.

BK is not convinced saying HSI should be doing more in Korea.

“Given that they raised money with Korean dogs, they should do something about dogs in Korea,” he said.

BK also alleges HSI has no legal rights over how Jung’s “personal” dogs are raised.

“Whether they increase in numbers, there is nothing [HSI] can do,” BK said. “There is no way you can prove that they are being raised for dog meat.”

BK believes that most the dogs will probably be at the farm until next summer.

“He will likely select the female dog. The purpose of that is for breeding. After one year they are likely to be sold off to butchers,” he said.

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Oct. 3. Photo: The Korea Observer

Lola Webber, cofounder of the Change For Animals Foundations co-founder and consultant of Humane Society International, argues that HSI cannot presume that Jung is raising the dogs for meat.

“I imagine the chances are that up at the blueberry farm, which is relatively isolated, that they are guard dogs,” Lola said.

“We are planning to go there and investigate it further and to find out what the dogs are there for and under what conditions they are being kept,” she added.

Adam said the January rescue was the first time they compensated a farmer in South Korea to transition into ethical farming and they have now refined the new contracts with other farmers.

He acknowledged that the written contract with Jung is limited.

“This is a learning process for us and our overall contracts and approaches have become more clamped down.”

HSI has since worked with another two dog farmers to transition them out of the dog farm industry. In this process they saved a total of 183 dogs from the farms.

HSI claims that it has been working consistently alongside the second former dog farmer where HSI rescued 57 dogs and closed his farm.

They have included the farmer in meetings, visiting him each time they are in Korea, and engaging with him on discussion planning regarding the campaign against the dog meat industry.

HSI also intend to work inclusively with the third former dog farmer in Hongseong where they recently rescued 103 of his dogs and shut down his farm.

Adam said HSI has decided not to work with farmers who are keeping other animals, have engaged a local solicitor firm to follow up on future breach of contracts, and will be staying in contact with farmers to ensure they are supported into their new areas of work.

A HSI spokesperson said they would not work in the industry in South Korea if they thought they could not have an ongoing impact on the dog meat industry.

“By creating models for change by closing dog farms and supporting the implementation of humane alternative businesses, we can develop a realistic and economically-viable proposal to present to the Korean public and government to support a phase-out plan for the dog meat industry.”

However, Choi Young-in, secretary general of the Korea Dog Meat Farmers Association, claims that HSI’s campaigning is completely ineffective, given that dog meat farming has grown into a multibillion dollar industry in South Korea with about 100,000 farms raising some 2.5 million dogs.

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?”

  • Armid Bayareagrl

    Typical liar murderer and thief breach agreements clearing out old dogs and getting new ones. Heartless cruel soulless evil psychopaths. Where is Korea’s compassion? You think God is pleased with your abuse and torture of animals? Can you even look them in the eyes? What if that was your loved one? Your child? Your companion? The world is watching and will not stop fighting for dogs cats all animals!

  • Wendy Lee W

    Thank you Mr James Hyams. That was an excellent àrticle.

  • parkslopedog

    When I hear about such mindset and behavior, I have nothing but contempt for Korean people.


    What is wrong with you people? 100,000 dog farms? You are a very very sick nation! I don’t think words can describe how evil you are. The evil man, Jung should never be allow to have any animals. Once an offender, always an offender!

  • Linda Boyce

    Very sick people so cold blooded even towards own people.Liars and cold blooded killers.horrible nation of misfits

  • valleygirl43

    There is no way they will ever be able to end the dog meat trade in Korea. It’s just as natural to them to kill and eat dogs, as it is for our country to kill and eat cows, pigs and chickens. They don’t have any bad conscience about dogs being brutally tortured and killed. It’s an ‘age-old’ practise, and while it might end some of the farms, it will ‘never’ stop the trade. It would be like trying to stop farmers in our country from raising cattle and pigs and chickens to sell for profit. As long as people in any country want a certain ‘food’ to devour, the practise will never end. It’s a sad fact, but it’s a fact. They don’t look on dogs the way ‘most’ North Americans do. It’s not just ignorance on their part, they are as steeped in eating dog meat, as we are at eating steaks and chicken and pork. I wish it could bring change, but I don’t see it happening. 🙁

    • Mira

      Hello…it is not only the North Americans who are outraged by this….people all over the world…OK ? And how do you know how many animal lovers all over the world are VEGANS? there are tens of millions…and by the way do you know that the consumption of meat in US dropped with over 400 millions animals ?????? YES over 400 millions less killed in US alone…do some research on veganism because it is on the raise !

  • Paigan Smart

    So very sad. Thank you for highlighting the issue.

  • Rita Lemkuil

    Sounds like the HSI has been had. Koreans are depraved, psychotic, sociopath’s with little income and would say anything to make money.

  • Mira

    What a misleading headline, as if it is HSI’s fault that this man did not keep his promise….Why blaming HSI ? how about turning your attention towards the INTERNATIONAL outrage regarding this “eating habits” ???? in South Korea ????? Again : why a headline which might make people blame HSI ???????? Those people in North Korea broke their promises…put them in the headline !

    • MisterCadet

      HSI, which is really an HSUS money-making scheme, raised millions of dollars off this case. Donors were led to believe that HSUS/HSI is the leader in ending the practice of eating dogs. The opposite is true.

  • Tracie

    They need to see our dogs who are assistant dogs, working as partners with their humans. Giving a life back to the blind, amputees, brain-damaged, individuals who otherwise would have no life. Koreans who are in those situations need to be partnered and paired with a helper dog to see that s/he is not a piece of meat, but a loving, caring, intelligent animal. Perhaps, in that way, we could change minds. Cursing won’t help. We need to come up with real solutions that will EDUCATE them.

  • Merritt Clifton

    Attempts to buy out people in abusive animal use industries have a long history of similar failures, against “puppy mill” breeders, bad zoos, bad pet stores, etc., which should have been known to HSI as an institution, even if not known to the relatively young people who arranged this deal. As I know the young HSI employees involved, I believe they acted in good faith, but I wonder where their bosses and strategic advisors were when they allowed a situation to develop with so much backfire potential. Incidentally, I have done extensive investigation & exposure of the Korean dog & cat meat trades myself, mostly circa 15-20 years ago, & my most important finding was that the average Korean just didn’t know about the cruelty involved. Shown what happens, the average Korean recoils in as much horror as anyone else — just as Americans recoil when shown the horror of factory pig and chicken farms.

  • Paul Chung

    Excuse me, but I beg to differ. People’s opinion of dog meat consumption in Korea border on the asinine level. If you are going to raise issue with dog meat, you might as well shun all meat practice throughout the world altogether. Let’s talk about how cattle, pigs, sheep, and fowls are gathered and slaughtered. But that is not the issue is it? The issue is about how the farmer is in perhaps violation of the limited contract agreement. Judging Korean dog consumption and making statements that the country is sick or depraved is like stapling a label that all Americans are crazy gun toting rampaging lunatics based on the acts of a limited group of mentally disturbed people. Muslims are all terrorist, feminists are all lesbians, etc.
    Please take time to read, and leave your judgmental attitudes in the cess pool you grew up in.

    • Pebble

      I read the hatred here for Korea is as a nation, not as individuals arising from the fact that many Koreans claim to oppose DCMT yet there are only a handful fighting against it while huge dog-meat farms endorsed by their government continued to be built. Any country protecting evil practices such as breeding dogs (an animal we domesticated as companions) for consumption ought to be despised. Inhumane methods of slaughtering farmed animals are also being fought and many activists became vegetarian/vegan or are becoming one.

    • David Priest

      EXCUSE ME !…Paul Chung…!! People like me and MANY others worldwide fight against this EVIL AND BARBARIC trade because of that….it is EVIL ….it is BARBARIC….AND it needs to end NOW! Korea needs to worry about a word called KARMA because KARMA COMES TO ALL PEOPLE THAT ABUSE ANIMALS AND ALL THOSE THAT DEFEND THEM OR PROTECT EVIL PRACTICES LIKE YOU ! Stop trying to divert the conversation to other subjects…..your efforts are futile and pathetic ! We also fight against ALL animal cruelty (all over the world) but we CONCENTRATE on the WORST EVILS in this world and this trade in Korea and China too is right up there at the TOP OF THE LIST. I and many of my friends are vegetarian and vegan so don’t bother trying to call us hypocrites…Don’t waste your breath! The only person who will end up in a cess pool is you and anyone that tries to defend this EVIL PRACTICE against beautiful, defenceless animals. We boycott all countries (trade & tourism) that carry on with these EVIL PRACTICES and many, many more people are joining the day ! Just watch your share markets continue to DROP!. If Korea cares about it’s reputation, then it needs to clean its act up and stop this EVIL TRADE ..until it does Korea’s reputation is severely stained (with red blood !) By the way, there are some good people in Korea …they are the ones that actively fight AND protest against this EVIL and they also save and rescue animals..NOT people like you that turn a blind eye, make excuses and prefer to pretend it is not an issue !! I am sick to death of people like you trying to hide behind futile excuses…trying to blame the rest of the world for their own EVIL. REMEMBER …LADY KARMA ! .. Stop your pathetic futile excuses and start making changes to stop this EVIL. !!

    • Pebble

      In case you are not aware, dogs are deliberately tortured before being killed to increase adrenaline levels to taste better according to their beliefs. Many are blow-torched or boiled alive! How
      could anyone with a conscience tolerate this?

    • Dawn Mello

      Yeah okay, well I guess we know what you eat. Scumbag.

  • Chucky3176

    This is lies! This farm must be in China! Korea is special no one eats dogs anymore, this is just angry male ESL teachers making up lies. I hate you! If you westerners come to Korea (females only) I will show you there are no dog farms, only beauty and peace.

  • al smith

    really we eat COWS.. that should be enough for India to “rescue” all of them.. It is their culture people.. don;t like it don;t go there

    • Dawn Mello

      I know where you can go.

  • al smith

    HSI is a MONEY MAKING groups.. that is what they car about MONEY 85K for 57 dogs.. really how many USA dogs would that help..

  • keve

    More dogs and cats are killed in Korean Human Society and US Human Society…. Take animal rights serious by adopting pets from human society. This article about farmers are minor compared to commercial marketing of pets in store for profits. US has more pets, breeds more dogs, and kills more dogs than any others nations combined. If eating for source of food bothers people, muslims around the world would like people to stop eating pigs and hindus would like people to stop eating cows.

  • keve

    The number of farms are NOT independently verified and very close to FLEA market claim journalism. Total number of farms in Korea is less then 10,000 which includes rice farms and vegetable farms. There is as low as around 50 dog farms in Korea if that. Flea Market journalism should not be taken serious. It is equivalent to Korean claiming 100,000 animals are sexually abused in US everyday; fleamarket claim of “prove me wrong”. NOT……. This is reason why journalist should learn MATH and know how to convert korean term to English which seem too difficult for journalists.

  • marismet

    Give me a break — HSI is a huge, powerful organization — with their wherewithal, they can make anything possible — c’mon, what’s really going on here! — HSI, Keep at it — NO EXCUSES! — If you really care about dogs and cats, you could make this happen for them — Keep after this farmer until he STOPS — simultaneously, keep searching industries NOT involving animals for him and others like him! == This is cruel, unconscionable, immoral activity that should be deemed criminal — criminals get thrown in jail — earning a proper living is up to each individual — this system MUST get laws on the books to protect ALL living beings from the horrors and brutalities these animals go through.

  • Dawn Mello

    May they all die the same way they kill.

  • June Haggar

    Praying for a Tsunami, tornado, hurricane or major natural disaster to wipe these evil demons off the face of the earth. They should be boiled and skinned alive and laid out like they do the innocent dogs. They should all die the same violent and painful death that they inflict on the innocent cats and dogs. Evil greedy sociopaths.

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