We'll be back ... Whale Embassy moves to Seoul

Feature story - July 1, 2005
SEOUL, Korea, Republic of — After 77 days of peaceful protest, our Whale Embassy has moved from the site of a proposed whale meat factory in Ulsan to Seoul. Although our activists are leaving Korea after the international whaling meeting, we will still be keeping an eye on the Ulsan site. We left a huge black whale tail on the site, reading "Korea - country of whale conservation?".

The Whale Embassy in Ulsan, South Korea.

Recent reports in the Korean national press claimed that the South Korean Government had scrapped plans to build the whale meat factory; however Ulsan City Council recently made statements refuting this, claiming that the factory will be going ahead.

If the South Korean Government goes ahead with building the factory, we will tell this story to the world and will do everything that we can to stop this internationally condemned plan. The Whale Embassy will now be run by our partners, the Korean Federation for Environment Movement (KFEM) in Seoul.

The South Korean Government makes huge claims about wanting to protect their remaining whales, yet do nothing about the trade in whale meat. KFEM's director Choi Ye-yong said, "How can you reduce bycatch by building a factory to process the carcasses? It is as ridiculous as building a factory to process the tusks of 'accidentally' caught elephants, then paying the people who 'accidentally' caught them."  DNA research has recently found that there are significantly more whales being found in the marketplace than could be accounted for by the "accidental" bycatch. During the period from June 19 to June 23 alone, five juvenile minke whales were caught "accidentally" off the coast of Korea - right in time for Ulsan's whale festival.

On April 7, the Whale Embassy was built to highlight the threats facing Korea's few remaining whales. Since then tens of thousands of people have lent their support to the campaign and the activists from 20 countries that staffed the embassy over the 77 days of peaceful protest, highlighted by over 50,000 people participating in our Virtual March held during the International Whaling Commission meeting.

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