The awareness of animal rights has heightened after an incident involving an escaped puma that was shot dead in September. Many people raged over the failed attempt to capture the animal, which had been born and lived its entire life in the zoo. Following this incident, the attention to animal rights has mounted along with a call for the freedom of all sentient beings.
Animal rights activists view animals as sentient beings, believing that humans and animals are essentially the same in that they all feel pain. Various movements have taken place in order to raise awareness of animal rights, including the Animal Rights March.
The Animal Rights March took place on Oct. 14 in Seoul. It was hosted by the Animal Liberation Wave (ALW), an organization that strives to create a society that recognizes animals’ rights and does not tolerate discrimination, regardless of the species. ALW led the march and performed a special play in which protesters acted to resemble dying animals.
ALW categorizes animals’ pain into five different sectors: farm, display, fur, companion, and experiment. Farms involve slaughter, factory farming, stalls, genetic modification, and antibiotics – methods and materials that usually cause pain to animals. Animal experiments also cause intense pain. For example, the Draize eye test is notorious for causing unbearable pain to rabbits, as it experiments on their eyes to check the various effects of chemical fluids which are used to make cosmetics.
“Having gathered about 150 participants, we believe that our first march was a success,” said Lee Ji-yeon, the co-president of ALW. “I found it very meaningful that the people who individually supported animal rights came together as one group to project our beliefs.”
Lee added that their organization believes that getting publicized is one of their top priorities.
“All the events and campaigns that we prepare for, no matter how meaningful they are, cannot be effective unless they get publicized. We want others to engage and further spread our ideas and beliefs.” For the fur industry, its major cruelties are inflicted by forced molting and mulesing, which involve the forcible stripping of animals’ skin and fur. Regarding the inhumane process of making fur products, Solchan, a vegan and animal rights club in Ewha, purchased winter outerwear made of wellon, an artificial duck down. The group’s slogans such as “Animal Liberation” and “All roads lead to Vegan” are printed on them.
“Long padded outerwear has become a must,” said Gyung Rim, the president of Solchan, who majors in Philosophy. “Many group purchases of long padded outerwear are conducted in Ewha, too. However, these items usually use animal fur that was produced in cruel ways. From what I know, duck down and goose down products require stripping animals.”
Gyung explained that as they fight for animal rights, they want to let people know about the existence of alternatives for padded outerwear. She also highlighted the importance of pursuing a vegetarian diet, claiming that food is the main reason animals are killed.
Lastly, Lee called for more attention to animal rights, pointing out the fact that animal rights activists are a minority in Korea.
“We try to spread our ideas through various campaigns and marches, but these are not enough,” added Lee from ALW. “Even if we publicize our actions enthusiastically, if no one pays attention, then it’s useless. If you really love and care for animals, I believe it’s time to take action. It’s time to speak up for animals, your so-called friends.”