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Scandal in Korea: Government Officials Linked to Illegal Bear Meat Restaurant

--photos courtesy of

Recent news has emerged from Korea, implicating the involvement of several Jincheon County council members in an illegal bear meat restaurant. The story has sparked public outrage in Korea as it highlights the horrible treatment of farmed moon bears and the hypocrisy of the government officials who regard the bears not as a protected species, but as a culinary delicacy.

The full-course meal included bear shabu shabu, paid for by a government-sponsored credit cardThe story broke on May 11 with a televised investigative report which aired on KBS Broadcast Networks in Korea. The report shows Jincheon County Council Chief Yoo, Young Hun and roughly 20 other council members dining at Yeonkok Garden restaurant, feasting upon an elaborate full-course meal of bear shabu shabu. According to the news report, Council Chief Yoo Young Hun paid 1100000 Won (US $1200) for his meal, using a government-sponsored corporate credit card. In addition, the restaurant menu features an array of bear meat products, ranging from bear feet, bear bile, and even bear wine.

The restaurant is owned by Kim Dong Ku, also a council member, who along with his wife, operates an adjacent bear farm where the bear meat is obtained on demand. Though the husband and wife have claimed to keep moon bears as pets, news reports reveal that they in fact operate a farm where as many as 20 bears are crammed to a single cage. When a bear dish is ordered, a bear is brutally clubbed to death and slaughtered on the spot. Restaurant patrons are also given the option of a "take out" menu, in which they can purchase bear cubs directly from the farm.

Jincheon County Council Chief Yoo Young Hoon claims he did not know the bears were killed illegallyThough bear farms regretfully remain legal in Korea, slaughtering the bears for their meat violates several laws. Following the news report, police are investigating potential violations of the Wild Animal Protection Law as well as the Food Hygiene Standard and disposal of waste regulations. Kim Dong Ku and his wife as well as 3 of the bear farm workers are currently under investigation for their crimes. However, Council Chief Yoo Young Hun and his fellow council members will apparently walk away without punishment, as the Ministry of Environment lacks adequate laws to bring charges for their actions. Yoo Young Hun has since publicly apologized for his actions, but claims he did not know that the bears were illegally killed. This is hard to believe, as villagers in the area have witnessed the council members dining at the restaurant very regularly and it is likely that hundreds of bears have been brutally killed and consumed by the council members.

In light of these recent events, IAKA urges supports to demand justice for moon bears in Korea. Now more than ever, we need you to call upon Korea's Ministry of Environment to ban bear farming and to strengthen laws against bear meat restaurants.

What You Can Do to Help:

Download the protest card to send to the Ministry of Environment, or write a personal letter to call for an immediate end to bear farming and to impose stricter penalties against bear farms and restaurants:

Minister Lee Chi-beom
Ministry of Environment
Government Complex-Gwacheon 1, Joongang-dong, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, 427-729 Korea

or contact the Ministry of Environment via the forum on their website

Write a personal letter to the offending council members of Jincheon County urging them to take responsibility for their actions and to shut down the Yeonkok Garden restaurant:

Jincheon County Office
Ubnae-ri #463, Jincheon-eup, Jincheon-gun,
Chungcheongbuk-do 365-850, Korea

Sign the online petition against bear farming in Korea. Go to:

Visit IAKA's campaign page to learn more about how you can help send a message to the Korean government to ban bear farming and begin building sanctuaries for moon bears in Korea.