Bear farming remains a problem in Korea because of the terrible conditions bears and kept in, the trade in bear products, and the illegal activities surrounding the eating of bears.
Some 1600 bears languish on farms in Korea. Sadly, they are farmed for their gall bladders, as superstition and medical ignorance is still present in Korea despite an otherwise modern society.
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It is not just the local market that allows the abuse and exploitation of bears to continue. Koreans now have a sad reputation as bear consumers abroad, where they will pay for exotic meals. The following is a horrific excerpt from http://www.earthtrust.org/bear.html It is difficult to regard the people involved as anything other than savages:
The South Korean appetite for bear parts--for medicine and consumption--at home and abroad is legendary. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Thailand was the most popular (or at least the best-documented) destination for Korea's gourmands. Stories abound of bears being boiled alive, lowered in cages onto hot coals while still alive, or being bludgeoned to death to get what one Thai described as the "fear juices" flowing to make the bear more tasty. It is a widely held belief in many parts of Asia that bears, primates, and other cherished endangered species taste better when adrenaline is forced to flow during drawn out, violent beatings just before the animal is killed.
These slaughters are said to take place in front of salivating patrons. Thailand-based Irish conservationist Shane Beary once watched a group of Koreans eat bear. The tourists, seated in a circle, "calmly watched bears being hit with sticks before being suspended in a net above a large cauldron and lowered into boiling water to be cooked alive.
In a case in July 1991, Thai officials raided a Korean-run farm near Bangkok and found four freshly slain bears, forty tourists (mostly Korean nationals, some of whom were dining on bear at the time), seven live bears, and forty-eight refrigerated bear paws. Records from sales of bear gall bladders and bear paws were also discovered. Upon further investigation, Thai police learned that the farm had been advertised in South Korea and Taiwan.
Information that follows this piece refers to the 80s and does not reflect the current situation. Whether the kinds of things described above still occur has not been affirmed by KARA. It is likely, however, that it still goes on but has been driven further underground. Truly disgusting and shameful.