There is a dirty little secret in Vietnam, and it's called Korean Bear Tourism.
ENV, a wildlife watchdog group in Vietnam, has documented busloads of Korean tourists visiting bear farms where they witness a bear bile extraction, taste bear bile wine, and buy products made from bear body parts. The tourists take the illegal products home to Korea at the end of their visit, violating international law.
ENV is working to shut the operation down. In the meantime, ENV is also educating Koreans about their complicity in these crimes against wildlife. ENV has contacted Korean Airlines to warn customers before they arrive in Vietnam, and the group is targeting hotels where Korean tourists stay in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, providing Korean language warnings and encouraging tourists to avoid bear farms during their visit. In Hanoi, the Melia, Fortuna, and Sheraton hotels are displaying advisories for their clients.
As ENV targets tourists with warnings, they say, "We remain hopeful that the Quang Ninh provincial government will take appropriate steps to end the illegal activities at bear farms in their province, and preserve the sanctity of Ha Long Bay as a World Heritage Site from the shadow of illegal bear farms just down the road."
More than 4000 bears are currently registered as being on bear bile farms in Vietnam. The Forest Protection Department has a plan to phase out bear farming by preventing new bears from ending up on farms, punishing violators and confiscating bears from farmers that are caught breaking the law. In practice, however, few bears are confiscated and farmers receive a slap on the wrist at best, and return to violating the law.
ENV staff infiltrated a bear farm and documented on film a bear bile extraction as Korean customers watched. ENV is a Vietnam wildlife watchdog group that is trying to get this place shut down. Read more