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4 Celebrity animal rights activists

  • Published : May 19, 2016 - 16:02
  • Updated : May 19, 2016 - 16:02

There are tens of thousands of stray pets in Korea, with one estimate standing at 81,000 in 2014. Of the total, estimated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 3 out of 4 were dogs.

Under local regulations, rescued pets sent to protection centers need to be put down if nobody claims them in 10 days. The only exception is Seoul, where a 20-day grace period is enforced.

There are two ways to change the fates of animals taken to shelters. Find their original owners -- who lost or abandoned their pets -- or find a new owner to adopt them. Or the animals will be killed under the guise of “humanitarian decision.”

The issues surrounding animal rights have received more attention recently, following an episode of SBS show “TV Animal Farm.” The episode focused on puppy mills and sparked a debate on animal rights. According to the episode, animals in such a facility are forced to bear at least four litters a year, and 50 litter during the lifetime.

There are estimated to be 3,000 puppy mills in Korea, where the animals are injected with chemicals to keep them physically ready to breed when their keepers need them to.

The abuses revealed through the program led to public backlash with a host of celebrities adding their voices to the cause. Hyolyn of Sistar expressed her objection to the animal rights abuses and urged potential pet owners to adopt pets from animal shelters.

HyunA of 4Minutes, a guest on the episode of “TV Animal Farm,” shed tears while watching the suffering of the animals.

The K-pop Herald is running a series of articles on Korean celebrities. The first installment will cover those who have devoted themselves to protecting animal rights by adopting stray pets or doing volunteer work that involves cleaning up cages, feeding animals and maintenance work. The second talks about those who have experienced volunteer jobs at pet protection centers and learned from it.

Hyolyn of Sistar

(Sistar member Hyolyn's Instagram account)
“Please adopt a pet (from the pet protection center) instead of buying them. Please. How cruel you guys are.” Hyolyn lashed out at pet baby farm owners after the episode aired.

Hyolyn of girl group Sistar is a frequent visitor to a stray dog center for voluntary work.

For two years, she kept her activities secret, until the episode of MBC’s reality show “I Live Alone” featuring her aired last year. She has since decided to let her voluntary activities be made public to raise awareness.

”I didn’t want to be like ‘Hey, I’m doing such a nice volunteer thing,’ before the public,” Hyolyn told local news outlet Dispatch in an article published Tuesday.

“But now my thoughts have changed. Recalling the moment, I was rather frightened to be represented as a pretentious person. Now I don’t care about the detractors. People will be more interested in this issue and some of them would step up to help me out.”

Some of Hyolyn’s fans reportedly donated pet food and have become engaged in volunteer activities at pet protection centers. Hyolyn adopted four cats.

Lee Hyo-ri

Ex-member of disbanded girl group Fin. K. L. and TV celebrity Lee Hyo-ri has long been known as an animal rights activist. She is a member of civic group Korean Animal Rights Advocates and has been involved in a series of campaigns.

After volunteering at a pet protection center, she was deeply appalled after she heard about the destiny of the dogs there. In 2011, she decided to adopt an ailing dog with one blind eye, naming her “Soonshim.”

Lee held a campaign sponsored by CJ E&M in 2012. The clip, where Lee and Soonshim appeared without payment, urges adoption of stray dogs and soon went viral. She also authored an essay collection, “Closer,” that talks about her life with Soonshim.

(CJ E&M)
She also created a blog and released a song, the proceeds from which went to animal rights advocacy groups.

Cho Youn-hee

(Oh Boy)
Actress Cho Youn-hee‘s affection for stray pets was made known through a pictorial carried by the fashion magazine Oh Boy in 2012. The pictures feature the actress herself and dogs in a protection center, all wearing clothes designed by the actress.

“It was such a devastating moment, when I realized the stray pets will die just because they could not find an owner,” she said in an interview with the magazine. “I wanted to show the readers the shining moments of the stray dogs.”

Cho, also a member of Korean Animal Rights Advocates, has adopted six dogs. Some of them she did not intend to raise, but foster until new owners could be found. However, she could not find suitable owners, and has cared for them herself.

Yoon Seung-ah

(Actress Yoon Seung-ah's Instagram account)
Actress Yoon Seung-ah has taken to social media platforms to call for related laws to be revised, along with the ban of puppy mills.
“Pet should not be abused. We need to put love and care into them,” she said in one post, with a snap proving that she had participated in an online petition.

As an owner of two dogs, Yoon, nicknamed “Pet Seung-ah,” held bazaars and donated profits from it to pet protectors.
Yoon is also known as a close friend of Lee Hyo-ri. Yoon published an essay collection with a veterinarian’s assistance titled “Dogs, What Are Your Thoughts?”

By Son Ji-hyoung (json@heraldcorp.com)