Korean tourist’s account, Bear bile farming


Translator: Joowon Kim, (The Bear Truth Campaign), Copy edited by Kelly Frances, (Bear Necessity Korea)

A Korean tourist visit Ha long bay; the visitor is accounting an experience to a bear farm.

It isn’t far from the Saigon Ha long hotel: approx 1 mile distance from the main road. The tourist is riding a bus, which approaches an iron gate in a remote area. The tourist can see bears “resting” in a tiny “1 pyung” unit of (measurement) cage. The bears stink from feces and cannot move at all due to cramping. They appear unfed and in poor health.

The tourist comments on the impossibility for hibernation.

The bus enters the gate, and the iron gate snaps shut. The interior cannot be seen by outsiders.

Inside the farm, we can see ladies in traditional Vietnamese dress, or Ah-wah-ji.

The Tour Guide, a Korean male, describes the moonbears. He explains they were captured from the forests of VN, and continues in detail about the numerous health benefits of bear bile, citing the deep intelligence of the bears and the wisdom of traditional Korean medicine.

All visitors are taken to a central conference room. The room, which has no air conditioning because the electricity needs to shut off for the upcoming procedure, is hot, dark, and dingy.

A large bear is sleeping in the room. The bear is being tended by a ‘veterinarian’ dressed in a doctor’s gown, who explains the bear has been tranquilized. There is a large generator (hence the lack of electricity) hooked up to an ultrasound machine.
The veterinarian reveals the bears belly. He spreads a gel substance on the belly, and finds the gall bladder. He inserts a huge needle into the gallbladder and uses a compressor to suck bile out.

Due to the size of the bear, he is able to collect 115 cc of bile. He removes the needle and explains that he should leave 20% of bile in so bear won’t die. He continues saying that  because the bear bile is so expensive, he will put a measure of 1cc into small containers which contain Vietnamese soju and distributes one to each tourist. The writer admits that “because it was free, I drank twice, but wasn’t interested”.

A sales attempt follows, but the room is uncomfortable and no one is interested. Sensing the disinterest, the tour guide attempts to offer discounted and return customer deals, evening offering a ‘pay later’ package. Still, no one is interested.

-2010, July 5