News / Asia

    South Korea Still Considering Resumption of Whaling

    Environmental activists demonstrate with a mock whale, during a protest against the plans of the South Korean government to resume hunting whales for research purpose, in central Seoul, July 6, 2012.
    Environmental activists demonstrate with a mock whale, during a protest against the plans of the South Korean government to resume hunting whales for research purpose, in central Seoul, July 6, 2012.
    SEOUL — South Korea's government says it has not abandoned the possibility of resuming whaling despite international criticism.

    The country's Land, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry informed lawmakers Tuesday it is studying whether the country should engage in what it terms "scientific research whaling."

    The ministry says it is urgently establishing a task force, staffed with specialists, including environmentalists, to examine the matter.

    Sources say the controversy has split the government with opponents warning the country could face a harsh diplomatic backlash.

    The United States, France, Australia and New Zealand, have already condemned South Korea's preliminary whaling plan.

    A natural resources division official at the environment ministry, speaking on condition he not be named, tells VOA the ministry wants international opinions taken into consideration, not just domestic concerns.

    Media reports last week, quoting unnamed officials, said the Presidential Blue House and the prime minister's office had decided to sink the whaling plan. But an environment ministry official says those reports are not correct.

    Foreign ministry spokeswoman Han Hye-jin says the topic is still under consideration.
    Han says the government's basic line is that it will carefully deal with the matter by listening to opinions of concerned organizations, as well as member states of the International Whaling Commission.

    In 1986, the IWC banned commercial whaling, amid fears that some species faced extinction.

    Han Jeong-hee, the oceans campaigner in Seoul for the environmental group Greenpeace, laments pro-whaling forces in government appear again to be at the helm.

    "Suddenly they just reported this about the task force and going back to the scientific whaling decision. This is very disappointing," Han said. "We hope the government changes their mind again and goes for non-lethal research."  

    The chairman of South Korea's main opposition Democratic United Party, Lee Hae-chan, says there is little doubt some people in coastal communities support the resumption of research whaling because of the potential commercial benefit.

    Lee says, although South Korea no longer faces poverty and thus does not need to rely on whale meat for protein, if there is a legitimate need for scientific research then limited whaling might be acceptable.

    Lee Man-woo, the vice representative of the Whale Culture Preservation Association, in Ulsan, a coastal city, tells VOA sighting surveys are not sufficient to get accurate data about the condition of the largest marine mammals.

    The pro-whaling official says meat from hunted whales should not be wasted. His group proposes auctioning it to provide quality food at a reasonable price for tourists and those who enjoy whale meat. Currently a small plate of whale meat sells in Ulsan for as much as $50.

    Lee and other proponents contend whaling is a part of Korean culture going back thousands of years. And, they note Japan's use of a loophole in the global moratorium to engage in so-called scientific whaling.

    Japan - and now South Korea - contend there are so many whales in their coastal waters that the mammals are eating too much of valuable and dwindling marine resources.

    Japan has faced wide international condemnation for its research program which has involved killing thousands of whales in the northern Pacific and near Antarctic waters since the mid-1980's.

    Earlier this month, the IWC blocked proposals from Japan for coastal communities to carry out small-scale whaling. It also rejected Denmark's request for indigenous groups in the Scandinavian nation to be able to hunt 1,300 whales over the next six years.

    Both Japan and Denmark are warning they will withdraw from the IWC if their proposals continue to be rejected.

    However, the IWC approved continued indigenous whaling in Russia and the U.S. state of Alaska, as well as for the Caribbean island nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

    South Korea could formally present its research whaling proposal next year when the IWC's scientific committee meets.

    Youmi Kim in the VOA Seoul bureau contributed to this report

    Steve Herman

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    July 25, 2012 4:39 AM
    Stop being emotional. Among IWA members, pro-whaling to anti-whaling is 39 to 49 in 2010. It is not one-sided to anti-whaling. Be rational. We Japanese have no longer seen whale meat at home since several decades years before. There still remains very very a few of old fishermen who are making their livings by whaling for a chickenfeed now. Be easy they will extinct before whales extinct. The problem is only how they can afford to live for the time being, I suppose.
    In Response

    by: Jin Rei
    July 25, 2012 8:37 PM
    It's really sad and desperate that they are using money from the Tsunami Relief Fund to support the "research" of whaling for meat.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora