South Korean Government scraps whale meat factory

Feature story - 15 June, 2005
In an amazing turn of events, the city of Ulsan has apparently courageously decided not to build the proposed whalemeat factory – the target of our Whale Embassy occupation. The news of this decision was reported in a South Korean newspaper on the eve of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.

A paragliding pilot flies over Greenpeace and KFEM activists protesting against the proposed construction of a whale meat processing factory in Ulsan May 31, 2005.

UlsanCity Council planned to build a whale meat processing plant inJangsaengpo, Ulsan, intending to start construction late thisyear.  The Korean fisheries ministry insisted that this plant was "a check-point for dealing with whale carcasses in an environment-friendly and sanitary manner".

However, according to newspaper reports in the South Korean paper TheHankyoreh, the council has decided to scrap the plans largely because:

"Greenpeace called the facility a whale meat factory at its website,which caused the international community to view Korea as a pro-whalingnation. The city decided that going ahead with the plan would not be inthe national interest. It also had trouble raising the fund. In theend, it decided to scrap the plan."

However, the Council will not commit to us in writing that the factorywill not be built.  According to the same newspaper report, a cityofficial said, "It is unprecedented that the city produces an officialdocument confirming its decision for an NGO [Non-GovernmentalOrganisation]. People may view such document as a sign that the cityhas changed its policy in the face of outside pressure. So putting thedecision in writing is unthinkable."

Greenpeace and the Korean Federation for Environment Movement issued the following statement:

"Greenpeace and KFEM are greatly encouraged by news released today inthe South Korean publication, The Hankyoreh, that plans to build awhalemeat factory in Ulsan, South Korea have been scrapped.

If these reports are true, Greenpeace and KFEM welcome the South KoreanGovernment's courageous move. By scrapping the planned whale meatfactory, the South Korean Government is showing that it does notsupport whaling, and it does not wish to follow in the footsteps of theJapanese Government in their determination to destroy the world'sdwindling numbers of whales. We hope that this move towards whaleprotection will be extended to the IWC, and that the South KoreanGovernment will now vote in favour of whale protection and vote againsta resumption of commercial whaling."

While the whale meat factory victory is great news,  thebattle to save Korea's whales has not ended - this weekend sees thestart of the IWC in Ulsan, and anotherchance for the Korean government to prove that it really is opposed to theresumption of whaling in any form.

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