South Korean Police Launch Investigation Into Slaughter of U.S. Racehorses

Following Media Frenzy Over PETA's Investigation, the Ministry of Agriculture Vows to Explore Retirement Program

For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2019

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Jeju City, South Korea – The Jeju Seobu police are investigating alleged violations of the Animal Protection Act at a South Korean slaughterhouse where U.S. Thoroughbreds and their offspring are killed. This follows the release of PETA’s 10-month investigation, which included video footage of former racehorses trembling in fear and being beaten in the face as they’re forced into the slaughterhouse and killed for meat. Additionally, both the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs and the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) have said that they’ll do as PETA has asked and work to implement a retirement program for racehorses.

Media coverage of the case has dominated the news in South Korea since PETA released the exposé on May 2, prompting dozens of articles and television news stories, and the video has gone viral there.

“This is a good first step, but now, U.S. Thoroughbred auctions must make it clear that no U.S. horses or their offspring can be sent to slaughter,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “If South Korea doesn’t stop killing racehorses, the U.S. must stop doing business with the KRA.”

The KRA aggressively imports and breeds American horses in an effort to grow horseracing, on which South Koreans bet nearly US$8 billion annually. But when the industry has no more use for these U.S. horses and their offspring, they’re sent to slaughter. In 2018, South Korea killed 1,249 horses.

In its investigation—which includes footage recorded inside Nonghyup, the largest horse slaughterhouse in the country—PETA identified 22 former 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. American stallions now standing in South Korea include Take Charge Indy, Colonel John, and Menifee.

U.S. Thoroughbred auction houses—including Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, The Fasig-Tipton Company, and Keeneland—as well as private parties sell approximately 400 horses to South Korea each year at a cost of about US$10 million total. The Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old Thoroughbred auction is taking place today and tomorrow in Timonium, Maryland. In 2018, the KRA purchased 18 American Thoroughbreds at this auction.

For more information, please see PETA.org.

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