There are around 15 million people who are raising pets in South Korea. The importance of animal rights is growing, and so the voice of the need to improve awareness of celebrities and the media is growing as well.
Super Junior Heechul Talks about Abandoned Animals
Just recently, JTBC's "Travel Battle for Respect for Dogs-Petkage" (also referred as "Petkage") has been at the hot seat of controversy right after the first episode was aired. It is because the performer, Super Junior Heechul, was alleged to instilling prejudice against abandoned dogs.
During the TV broadcast, Kim Heechul stated that he thinks raising an abandoned dog is really great. He added that dog experts never recommend abandoned dogs to people who want to have a puppy. Because abandoned dogs have been hurt before. If it takes too long to adapt to a person, it will hurt people and dogs as well.
Although Heechul showed respect for the owners of abandoned dogs, he, however, criticized them harshly. He said that influential entertainers expressed their narrow thoughts about abandoned dogs, this causes the people to put a negative stereotype on abandoned dogs.
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Celebrities and Animal Rights
KARA, an animal protection group in Korea stated that the remarks lead to misunderstandings saying that abandoned animals were difficult to raise. Some words from various celebrities reinforce prejudice against abandoned dogs. It is not an exaggeration to say that it can be made just by watching, and the influence of the media is strong.
Aside from that, misjudgment by the production team of "Petkage" came out as a problem. Heechul remarks during the episode were released unedited without them realizing that it would have a huge impact.
Furthermore, it has been pointed out that no matter how many people volunteer at shelters for abandoned animals and campaigns to improve the awareness of abandoned animals, if a celebrity throws the wrong word on media with a strong radio wave, the word spreads very fast.
On the other hand, there are still cases about doing good deeds to abandoned animals that had a positive impact as a celebrity. Singer Lee Hyori volunteered at a long-term abandoned dog shelter and she also adopted an abandoned dog. Actress Yong-nyeo Lee spends five million won every month to run an abandoned animal shelter, and this played a huge role in changing the public perspective about abandoned animals.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs released the "2020 Animal Protection National Awareness Survey" and it says that the number of households raising companion animals have reached around 15.3 million.
Just like human rights, animal rights emerged as a very important topic, and similar to "gender sensitivity," it is no longer awkward to have the expression "sensibility" that is attached to animal rights. Celebrities and media that have a large social influence should have a keenly versatile gaze when it comes to animals as their subject matter.
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Written by Annie Barmaine.