Expats commit to ending bear farming

Every bear sold helps support an end to bear bile farming

It may be the year of the rabbit. But the Asiatic black bear, commonly known as the “moonbear,” is center stage for a growing number of expatriates this year.
The Bear Truth, a grassroots campaign in Seoul, will join Rep. Hong Hee-deok of the Democratic Labor Party for a street campaign to raise public awareness about bear bile farming. The Bear Truth is a volunteer division of national NGO Green Korea United.

The street campaign will happen against the background where the issue of banning bear bile farming is currently on the agenda at the National Assembly for the first time. Should you spot the group’s notorious “dancing bear” in your neighborhood, American activist Matt Legreid invites you to stop and pose for a picture with the cozy critter, and maybe purchase a stuffed bear and learn a thing or two about the animal.

Also, Craftwork’s Taphouse and Bistro will launch Jirisan Moon Bear India Pale Ale in April, where a portion of the proceeds from the new draft will go to support an end to bear bile in farming.

“It’s an important issue,” said Dan Vroon, whose establishment sells a number of beers named after Korean mountains. Vroon is a firm believer in “businesses doing what they can to be supportive of community issues,” and that even small contributions can have big impacts.

“Since these bears are not capable of protecting themselves, I feel it is my duty to stand up and do what is in my power to help these beautiful creatures live the rest of their lives in peace and comfort,” said Kathryn Park, a volunteer for The Bear Truth.

As government officials continue to grapple with the complexities of the issue, expat event planners have shown steadfast support as evidenced by recent fundraisers in Itaewon and Hongdae. Last year, Australian belly dance guru Belynda Azhaar supported the cause through her event, RAK World Belly Dance Celebration held in Hongdae. Shortly after, Lauren Bedard, producer of “The Seoul Encyclopedia Show,” donated cash to Bear Necessity Korea.

On Saturday, March 5, Craftwork’s Taphouse and Bistro will hold “IPA Brewing Day” in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province. Profits from the event will be donated to Bear Necessity Korea. Event coordinator and music producer Roger Wong Won is no stranger to the fundraising scene, noting his love for animals makes it easy to volunteer his talents.

The bill governing farm bear management was temporarily delayed in the National Assembly due to the North Korea crisis, according to representatives from the World Society for the Preservation of Animals. Green Korea United announced a further delay this month due to the foot-and mouth-disease outbreak. At present, Korea remains one of three countries to allow the controversial practice of bear bile farming.

Despite its highly symbolic status in Korean history, there are fewer than 20 Asiatic black bears roaming the Korean wild today. In contrast to their numbers in the wild, a staggering 1,300 suffer in terribly inhumane, highly unregulated conditions at bear bile farms, awaiting slaughter to fuel the oriental medicine trade.

For more information on Craftorks Taphouse and Bistro events including directions, visit http://www.craftworkstaphouse.com. To learn more about moonbear farming, awareness campaigns and supportive events being held in Korea, visit http://www.bearnecessitykorea.com.

Original story