In February 2012, at a farm three hours south of Seoul, a farmer decided to starve his cows as an act of protest against the FTA.
Passage of the FTA created a market where Korean beef is worth less than the cost of producing it.
Allowing cows to starve to death is a violation of the Animal Protection Law and the government is required by law to take action. But the government refused to do anything.
More than half the livestock was lost to starvation. The remaining cows were malnourished and struggling to survive.
Once CARE received word, we traveled to the farm to film the plight and suffering of the dozen or so remaining cows. We filed official complaints with the Korean government and demanded they enforce the APL and fix the situation. They refused to listen and the cows continued to starve.
After a few days of preparation, CARE hired a transport truck to bring nine of the cows from the farm to the government complex center in Gwacheon. Our plan: bring nine starving cows to the government’s doorstep and force them to do something about it.
This sign reads, “CARE is transporting starving cows from Sunchang”
When we arrived, we opened a gate and drove the truck into a nearby government park. Once in position, we opened the back gate and began unloading the cows one at a time. The cows were hungry and thirsty, so we provided lots of hay and water.
The sign around the cow’s neck reads, “Please don’t let me starve to death.”
As we were unloading the fourth cow, police officials called riot police to form a barricade and stop us. Two full brigades of police officers came running with batons, night sticks, and riot shields to form a perimeter around the transport truck. They closed the back gate and refused to allow any more cows unloaded. The three cows that had already been unloaded stayed tied to nearby trees.
It was a stand-off. The cops refused to allow us to continue unloading and we refused to reload the cows and take them away. We demanded the government do something to help these starving cows. Such neglect is a clear violation of the Animal Protection Law.
This stand-off lasted for more than seven hours.
Eventually, government officials came to negotiate. They agreed to all of our terms. They promised to take the nine cows to a no-kill farm sanctuary where all basic needs will be met.
There are 16 cows still at the farm with limited food. The government has promised to pick up those remaining cows and transport them to a sanctuary by the end of next week.
This is a huge victory for animal rights activists in Korea. We are happy and proud the government has finally decided to do the right thing.
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