Entertaining Commodities or Living Beings? Public Perception of Animal Welfare at Local Festivals in South Korea

Seola Joo, Jaeye Bae, Yechan Jung, Myung Sun Chun, Hyomin Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Many festivals use animals in the name of continuing traditions and religious acts of historical and cultural relevance, as well as for tourist entertainment; however, the welfare of these animals has been overlooked in favor of maintaining cultural identity or making economic profits. The criticism of animal-based festivals has been growing along with the increased public awareness of animal rights. However, this change in public perception has not yet been translated into actual government policies in Korea. This study addresses the unethical practices and challenges regarding animal welfare at festivals from the perspective of visitors to understand the public perception of the need for institutional and regulatory interventions to improve the treatment of animals at festivals. An online survey (N = 1000) is conducted to examine the public perception of animals and animal welfare at festivals and how strongly online survey participants support organizer- and state-level actions to protect the welfare of festival animals. Logistic regression analyses identify gender, pet ownership, pro-animal attitude, visiting experience, sensitivity to criticism regarding animal issues, and perception of animal welfare at festivals as significant predictors of online survey participants’ support for actions ensuring the welfare of animals used in festivals. Our findings also suggest that people sympathize with the need to enhance animal welfare but have low levels of sensitivity to the maltreatment of animals at festivals, indicating the existence of cognitive dissonance. Establishing guidelines and regulations for improving animal welfare can help festivals use animals in a more sustainable way and make visitors rethink and re-establish human–animal relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Animal attitude scale
  • Animal welfare
  • Animal-based festival
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Ethics

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