Whale activists threatened with eviction

Opponents of whale factory stand their ground

Feature story - 11 May, 2005
The city of Ulsan, Korea has ordered us to vacate our "Whale Embassy" -- built near the site of a planned whale meat factory. We've told them we'll be happy to leave, once they assure us they will not build the factory.

The Whale Embassy in Ulsan, South Korea ... with campaigner Jim Wickens on the phone as usual!

In early April, we uncovered plans by the Korean government to build awhale meat factory in Ulsan.  The discovery added togrowing evidence that

Korea wants to reopen commercial whaling.

We established our Whale Embassy to open a dialogue with local peopleabout the government's plans, to explain just how many people aroundthe world oppose whaling, to call for a cancellation of plans to buildthe factory,  along with assurances that Korea will not bow topressure from Japan to resume commercial whaling.

We've had visitors and volunteers from the local community, the NewZealand Ambassador stopped by, and a great deal of local pressattention.

City officials embarrassed

But City officials are not at all happy with us tarnishing theirreputation as the "City of whales" with our suggestion that Ulsan isactually heading toward becoming the "City of whaling."

  Oureviction notice stated they want usto leave because they claim we are in the way of the proposed Oceans Day ceremony on May 31st.

They have given us until Monday, May 16th to get off the site.

Stifling criticism

Whale campaigner Jim Wickens says: "It is quite clear that they want tostifle any criticism of their plans to build the factory. Today theyshowed us plans of the Oceans Day ceremony being planned, and on theentire 15,000 square-metre site, they don't have any room for ourlittle embassy.  We have told them that any attempts to evict usforcibly will reflect very badly on their international image


There have already been several attempts at intimidation, official andunofficial. According to Wickens: "Last night at four in the morningfour local fishermen turned uplooking for trouble, luckily there were others awake to come and help.

We have been tipped off that in Korea in sensitive political protests

,thugs are often allowed to do the dirty work. There is a possibilitythat this may take the form of fake fishermen coming to beat us up."

The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has sent a fax to ourheadquarters in Amsterdam claiming we are distorting the truth.

"Hygienic" butchering of "accidental" whale meat

They say that the whale meat factory will merely be a sanitary measure-- a way to hygienically butcher the whales which are "accidentally"killed by becoming entangled in nets, and those which might be killedin a possible programme of "scientific whaling."

Korea allows the commercial sale of whale meat fromaccidental kills.  The Ministry didn't respond to our observationthat Korea and Japan individually in 2003 caught more whales byaccident than all the fishing fleets in the world combined reported.

Nor did they comment on the stories that local people have told usabout some methods fisherman use to "accidentally" catch whales:ramming them with the ship to cause massive internal injuries.

With our own eyes

We witnessed the butchering of a juvenile minke whale which was"accidentally" caught.  The whale meat was packaged up for sale ata value of US$30,000.

At prices like that, you can well imagine why a city official might want to build a whale butchering factory.

The man who can stop the whale meat factory is Ulsan mayor, Mr. Park Maeng-woo.

Local businessmen, such as the deputy vice president of Hyundai

, havebeen vocal supporters of the whale meat factory, apparently unaware ofthe brand damage which other multinational corporations have sufferedwhen they've been exposed as having a close association to whaling.

Korea hosts the International Whaling Commission meeting this year inJune. The meeting that could open the doors to a return to commercialwhaling, which has been banned since 1985.

Tell the mayor to stop the whale factory

We're trying to warn Mr. Park Maeng-woo just how passionate peoplearound the world are about saving whales -- how much his town'sreputation, the reputation of Hyundai corporation, and the reputationof his country are at stake.

You can help us let the Ulsan mayor know just how important it is toGreenpeace supporters worldwide that he make the right decision andcancel the whale meat factory. 

Watch the video of Jim speaking from the Whale Embassy

Stop the whale meat factory!

Join the Virtual March on Ulsan, South Korea, to stop the whale meat factory and tell Korea the world says NO to whaling.

Give so whales can live

Greenpeace actions have saved whales all over the world, but whaling nations continue to press for a resumption of commercial whaling. Help us keep fighting against whaling.