Address at the Opening Ceremony for the Seoul Life Companion Adoption Center
Date: September 17, 2012
Venue: Seoul Grand Park, Main Information Center
Hello. I am Park Won Soon, mayor of Seoul Metropolitan City. I offer you my congratulations on the opening of the Seoul Pet Adoption Center, and I would like to thank all distinguished guests, from home and abroad, for your unwavering love for animals, and for your presence here today.
They say there are more than 10 million people living with pets, which shows just how much they have become a part of our lives. In addition to founding the Pet Adoption Center, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has established the Animal Welfare Department, where we are busy training Jedori, an illegally captured dolphin of an endangered species, in preparation for his release in the waters of Jejudo Island.
Some may ask why the mayor of Seoul is concerning himself with animals, thinking he is just using the issue to gain popularity. The truth is that, way back in 1994, I was first exposed to the idea of animal welfare. I was a lawyer, and had just travelled to the United Kingdom to study at Oxford. At that time, there were many demonstrators in London calling for “animal welfare”. I was confused and bit taken aback. It was a time when we had not even established human rights in Korea, but here these people were, demanding animal rights. It was so strange that I decided to study it. I began reading numerous theses and reports on animal rights in the U.K., and upon returning to Korea, I wrote a thesis of my own on this same issue.
Having achieved rapid economic growth following the devastation of war, Koreans may have found it unusual to talk about animal welfare and animal rights. But now, we are an advanced society, and our economy is among the 10 largest in the world. I think this gives us sufficient grounds to now ponder the dignity of our society.
At home, I have two Jindo dogs named “Seoul” and “Hope”. Whenever I come home after an exhausting day of work, they rush out to greet me. They even fight over who gets to play with my socks after I take them off. People who live or have lived with pets will know the joy they bring. They receive love, comfort, and energy from their animal companions, as they would from their own family members.
Animals are friends that live together with us, and just as we have our rights, animals also should have their own rights as well. It is our duty to protect the rights of our friends, and the Seoul Pet Adoption Center represents our first step toward this goal. A dignified society where not only people but all living beings in this world are unhurt and live together in harmony is a world that can find true happiness. With this ideal in mind, today we open the Seoul Pet Adoption Center.
I offer my sincere appreciation to everyone who contributed to the establishment of this facility and to all citizens who love their animal companions.