First-Ever Video Exposé: U.S. Racehorses Beaten, Slaughtered in South Korea

Thousands of Exported Thoroughbreds End Up on Dinner Plates—PETA Files Legal Complaint Over Beatings, Horse Killed in Full View of Another

For Immediate Release:
May 2, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

As reported today on Deadspin, PETA has released undercover video footage from a 10-month investigation that blows the lid off the widespread slaughter of American Thoroughbred racehorses and their offspring in South Korea. The video shows former racehorses and other horses trembling in fear and beaten in the face as they’re forced into the slaughterhouse and killed for meat.

PETA is calling on the U.S. horse-racing industry to stop selling Thoroughbreds to Korea for racing and breeding until the slaughter ends. PETA is also urging Korean officials to prosecute those who violate the country’s Animal Protection Act and calling on the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) to implement a comprehensive retirement plan for unwanted horses modeled on the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in the U.S.

PETA identified 22 ex-racehorses at the slaughterhouse, 19 of whom were from the U.S. or had American parents. Most were between 2 and 6 years old, and even their expensive pedigrees couldn’t save them: Famous sires of slaughtered horses include Medaglia d’Oro and Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.

“The U.S. racing industry must persuade the Korea Racing Authority to stop this slaughter and redirect a percentage of horse-racing wagers to equine retirement,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “Even a tiny fraction of the profit made off the backs of these horses would spare thousands of retired racing horses a hideous and frightening death.”

The KRA aggressively imports and breeds American horses in an effort to grow the “sport,” on which South Koreans bet US$8 billion annually. U.S. auction houses—including Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, Fasig-Tipton, and Keeneland—as well as private parties sell approximately 400 horses to South Korea each year at a cost of about $10 million total. But the Korean racing industry discards as many horses as it brings in, and while it “retires” more than 1,600 horses per year, only about 3% end up at other equestrian facilities. Most are sent to slaughter, usually at the Nonghyup slaughterhouse on Jeju Island, where horsemeat restaurants abound.

Horses are high-strung, and in PETA’s footage, they shook as they arrived at Nonghyup, many covered with mud and burrs, some bleeding, and one with a leg wrap, indicating that he was fresh off the racetrack. Workers beat them to make them enter the slaughterhouse and killed one horse in full view of another. The video shows a 3-year-old filly struck repeatedly in the face and two mares beaten for almost three minutes straight.

Broadcast-quality video footage from PETA’s exposé is available. For more information, please visit

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