In attempts to curb the worst outbreak of this contagion that has been ravaging livestock animals nationwide since November, the South Korean government has spent over US$2.5 billion on various measures.
These include culling, or the deliberate killing of millions of animals to stop the spread of illness; disinfecting entire barns and vehicles; compensating farmers, many of whom lost their entire livelihoods overnight; and vaccinating livestock, which has so far proven unreliable.
Over 2,000 vaccinated cows and pigs still got infected, while another 6,300-plus new animal deaths have been linked to the vaccine itself. Meanwhile, the people of South Korea have been shocked and disturbed to find that 3.5 million cows and pigs were massacred throughout the nation, mostly in a horrifying way.
Supreme Master Television's correspondent reports about the web of challenges surrounding the disease outbreak.
South Korean correspondent (F): So far, 3.2 million pigs were killed, and all of them were buried alive. These shocking measures has become a big issue in South Korean society, generating criticism in terms of moral and environmental aspects. What you are seeing here is the site where pigs were buried alive. There are much more than 4,000 burial sites like this around the country.
These burial sites are near upper streams of rivers, residential areas, and schools. With a chance that contamination due to leaking fluids could cause an epidemic, the animals' disaster due to foot-and-mouth disease could turn into a disaster for humans.
Cho Yeon-Soon - Director, Mae Ryu Community Health Center (F): Because animals are buried alive near underground water or water supply facilities around here, it might have a dreadful impact on the drinking water for the residents here.
Correspondent (F): When burying the animals alive, they lined the ground with plastic sheets, but the live animals struggled and the plastic sheets got damaged. So the oozing fluid from the dead animals' bodies are leaking out, creating a serious potential environmental problem.
Citizen, Seoul (M): According to news, many burial sites are along with Han River, and as spring arrives, the river can be contaminated. Han River is the source of drinking water for my home, so I'm really concerned.
VOICE: In response to fears of an environmental disaster stemming from burying the live animals, the South Korean government has spent US$274 million to provide alternative water supplies to communities concerned about the leakage from decaying carcasses. But an equal outrage about the culling is about the cruelty - which has also extended to humans.
Lee Hang-Jin - Korea Federation for Environment Movements Yeoju Office (M): The ethical issue is about what impact foot-and-mouth disease has on human life. Public servants involved in this are now suffering from trauma and getting psychiatric treatment, and some even died because of extreme stress.
Correspondent (F): So far, nine public officers have died due to extreme stress and 126 officers were injured. As sad stories became widely known such as a mother cow trying her best to protect her young until the last moment when mother and child were killed, social awareness is awakening about respect for life.
Lee Hang-Jin (M): I personally decided to stop eating meat through this incident.
Correspondent (F): News media have been reporting about factory farming daily, and discussions about vegetarianism have come to the fore.
Citizen, Seoul (M): I think excessive meat eating caused foot-and-mouth disease.
Citizen, Seoul (F): I feel very sorry for them because we're causing so much pain to them.
Correspondent (F): Citizens, who till now ignored the uncomfortable truth while enjoying meat nicely presented on a convenient table, now in seeing the horror of the live burials, have begun to ask themselves a fundamental question: Is it morally proper to eat meat that underwent the cruelty of killing animals?
Citizen, Seoul (M): What's happened now will consequently come back to us.
Correspondent (F): This has been Supreme Master Television at a livestock burial site in South Korea.
VOICE: With appreciation for the South Korean government's efforts to respond to this tragic emergency, we join in mourning the loss of both countless innocent animals and perished humans, as we pray that this cruel crisis will stop soon and for good.
May societies everywhere find permanent safety from all the risks of animal farming by ending meat production altogether. With foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks and culling also being reported elsewhere in recent years, Supreme Master Ching Hai addressed the issue of livestock-related diseases during an October 2009 videoconference in Formosa (Taiwan).