SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are expanding into protecting animal rights and revitalizing local economies.
POSCO Engineering & Construction Co. is going to offer a helping hand to build a large cat shelter using a closed school in the island village in Tongyeong, a coastal city in South Gyeongsang Province.
Tongyeong, often dubbed the “Naples of Asia” among Koreans, is a bustling port city famous for its seafood, particularly oysters, and recently for the ‘cat island’ of Yokjido, home to more than 100 cats meandering along the coastline.
The establishment of the facility, a so-called ‘Public Type Cat Protection and Sales Center’, represents the very first attempt at such a venture by a local government in South Korea.
The city government of Tongyeong expects it to not only to help raise awareness of animal rights but create additional income for local residents.
POSCO E&C, the construction arm of POSCO, the country’s top steelmaker, signed an agreement with the city government on Thursday to this end.
According to the plan, a cat protection and adoption facility will be created following renovations to the Yongho branch school of Hansan Elementary School located on Yongho Island.
The cat shelter will serve to save stray cats — especially sick or young who are abandoned, help them to restore their health until they are strong enough to find new families (cat adopters).
The facility will also be established as a cat-themed park with the goal of developing into a unique tourist destination in a move to attract more visitors to the port city.
This is not the first time that POSCO E&C has participated in animal protection activities.
Quite recently, the company set up a cat-themed art wall at a fishing storage warehouse in a local village, teaming up with an animal rights group and villagers, along with the city government.
The company has engaged in establishing ‘steel-made’ cat feeding stations, providing animal protection in redevelopment areas, doing rescue work for endangered animals and even urban beekeeping to protect bees.
POSCO E&C also runs a ‘Green Play School’, an environmental education program for kids for the sake of improving animal welfare and preserving biodiversity.
Critics, however, have raised concerns about this apparent ‘goodwill’ project. In an opinion posted on Facebook, an expert in environmental issues raised doubts about the viability and efficacy of the venture.
Ji Wook-cheol, co-director of the Tongyeong-Geoje branch of the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, the largest environmental non-profit organization in South Korea, said, “Will locking cats in groups in a crowded place improve cat welfare?”
“Keeping them in a confined area could generate other negative side effects, for example the possibility of being infected by a novel disease such as COVID-19,” Ji added.
Jerry M. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)