Cat Abuse Videos Spark Outrage, Calls for Aggressive Punishment | Be Korea-savvy

Cat Abuse Videos Spark Outrage, Calls for Aggressive Punishment

This photo provided by animal rights advocacy group KARA shows Dooboo, a cat that was killed in a random violence incident on Jan. 26, 2021, in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

This photo provided by animal rights advocacy group KARA shows Dooboo, a cat that was killed in a random violence incident on Jan. 26, 2021, in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Korea Bizwire)A spate of cat abuse videos, such as setting one homeless feline afire or banging another repeatedly to the ground to death, have sparked outrage among pet owners recently amid concern that such abuses could spread unless punished aggressively.

Late last month, a public petition was posted on the presidential petition website to call for the abolishment of the stray cat-themed bulletin board on DC Inside, a popular online community similar to Reddit in the United States.

The petition, signed by more than 49,000 supporters as of late Friday morning, came after an anonymous user uploaded a video on Jan. 28 of a cat being set on fire and called for a criminal investigation into the crime and other suspicious activities on the board.

The video in question has apparently been pulled from DC Inside but not before copies were shared to other websites, stoking reactions of disgust and outrage, especially among pet owner groups and communities of stray animal caregivers.

The footage seen by Yonhap News Agency showed a gray cat inside a small cage writhing in pain after being doused with apparently some type of oil then being set on fire.

“The online board has had members who made fun of a bludgeoned cat confined in a cage and even carried a video of feeding crushed rat poison to a cat. Can we really assume (the victimized cats) are still alive since we have yet to see their dead bodies?” the petitioner wrote.

The case was just the latest in a series of mindless cruelty incidents against mostly homeless or adopted cats in the past year, many of which were reportedly shared and viewed among members of seedy online forums and chat groups as some form of mentally twisted spectator sport, animal rights protection group KARA told Yonhap News Agency.

Last week, police opened a probe into the brutal killing of Dooboo, a cat adopted by a small restaurant in Changwon, about 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Jan. 26.

According to a witness, a man who appeared either in his 20s or 30s violently threw the cat several times on the floor for no apparent reason and fled the scene after the witness told him to stop.

An animal rights advocacy group in the southeastern port city of Busan reported in December that around 20 bodies of dead cats were discovered from August to October in a residential area in Sasang Ward and claimed many were believed to have been tortured by means such as skinning and later killed.

In November, a cat with a severely disfigured face, apparently due to burns from a fire, was discovered and rescued in Wando County, where another cat with burn marks on the ear and the back was discovered six months prior.

One of the more extreme cases was that of the so-called animal Nth room — nicknamed after the horrendous case of cybersex trafficking via the messaging app Telegram between 2018 and 2020 — in which videos of mutilating cats and other wild animals were shared in an anonymous group chat room dubbed “gore expert room” on the messaging app Kakao Talk presumably from late 2020 until April of last year.

This undated file photo shows a homeless cat wandering in a back alley. (Yonhap)

This undated file photo shows a homeless cat wandering in a back alley. (Yonhap)

While the reported cases may be isolated incidents in and of themselves, animal protection experts are concerned by the increase in frequency and the level of violence inflicted on the feline creatures as a whole.

They also believe that many perpetrators are also seeking thoughtless, guilt-free satisfaction by showing off their actions online and stirring up a sense of horror among the cat caregiver community.

An alleged perpetrator has recently gone as far as actually threatening a caregiver of a stray cat with murder.

According to KARA, the person has sent several letters to a cat mom since August of last year, threatening to kill her with a weapon. KARA filed a criminal complaint on behalf of the woman with police Monday.

“Members of such online groups refuse to use the word ‘cat’ but instead refer to the creatures as ‘fur cockroaches.’ They have created among themselves a clannish culture of inflicting cruelty towards cats and competing in constant one-upmanship in terms of displaying cruelty,” Choi Min-kyung, deputy head of policy at KARA, said.

While noting the lack of empirical evidence to suggest a link between the two trends, Kang said she, among others, also senses an underlying element of anti-feminism in the series of cat-related abuses, as the broader cat mom community are often associated with women.

Such interpretations can also be easily found in social media.

Ok Soo-chul, who has operated a YouTube channel themed around rescuing abandoned cats since 2019, agreed that he has seen an alarming growth of such gruesome cases in recent years, especially among young males.

Ok said he was especially concerned that an increase in exposure to such cruelty could desensitize people, harm their sense of morality and lead to more serious crimes.

“Older people who disliked stray cats hated them for reasons such as pooping near their homes or ruining their farm crops. Cruelty cases shared online nowadays definitely have an element of showing off, such as bragging about your new weapon in a virtual game world,” Ok said.

Under current animal protection laws, those who kill or abuse animals can face up to a maximum three-year prison sentence or a fine of up to 30 million won (US$25,000).


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