Victory! South Korea Announces Four-Year Plan To Put An End To Barbaric Bear Bile Farming & Extraction

The South Korean Ministry of Environment signed an agreement last week with the Bear Farmers Association and numerous local animal protection organizations to prohibit bear bile farming and bile extraction beginning on January 1, 2026.

Until 2025, the Ministry will set a foundation for protecting and managing captive bears by delegating responsibilities to each relevant agency. Beginning in 2026, it will transfer bears surrendered by farms or confiscated by the government to sanctuaries and manage them in a humane manner.

“The declaration of the end of bear farming has a more significant meaning since it resolves the 40-year-long problems of the bear bile farms with the joint efforts from the government, the farms, and the civil society,” Minister of Environment Han Jeoung Ae said in a statement. “Since this declaration is the beginning stage of the end of bear farming, not the final stage, the government will continuously cooperate with the farms and the civil society to implement the plan stage by stage.”

From 1981 to 1985, South Korea imported bears and encouraged breeding to help increase income for farmers. Since then, the country has been condemned by the international community for bear bile extraction, poor living conditions of bears, animal abuse, and continued illegal propagation.

Despite the previous efforts of the Ministry, including sterilizing captive bears and strengthening the punishment for illegal propagation, the Korean Government had a limit in addressing the problem because the captive-bred bears were considered the farms’ private property.

Based on the agreement, the Minister is also pushing forward to establish the “Special Act on Prohibition of Keeping Bears in Captivity and Protection of Bears (suggested title)” by consulting with the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Ministry also announced the implementation plan of the end of bear farming. The plan consists of policy reforms, including eradicating illicit activities using unneutered bears for exhibitions or zoos and more substantial responsibilities for safety management of facilities.

In addition, the Ministry will continue to operate public and private consultative group for bears in captivity to review the status of the plan and discuss possible collaborations with other agencies.

According to World Animal Protection, the government is also planning to build a new shelter in Guyre-gun that will accommodate 49 bile bears, and another wildlife sanctuary in Seocheon-gun, that will house an estimated 70 bears

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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