South Korea's ongoing epidemics of foot-and-mouth disease and avian flu have led the country's government to call for the culling of animals -- pigs and cows because of foot-and-mouth, chickens and ducks because of avian flu, as well as smaller numbers of other animals like goats -- on an enormous scale.
Reports list the number of slaughtered pigs at well over a million; the total number of all animals killed seems to be several million and growing. Worse still, a large percentage of those -- representing virtually all the culled pigs, according to the group Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) -- were buried alive, in part because the country doesn't have enough euthanasia drugs to go around and a large dose is required to kill a pig.
The situation has also led to nightmarish reports about water quality in the affected regions.
According to the Guardian, nearly 70,000 soldiers have been tasked with helping regional forces conduct the livestock culls. Many of the killed animals appeared to be healthy, but came from farms in close proximity to confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth.
One bright spot is that the country, which began to vaccinate large numbers of cows against the disease last month, has recently begun to vaccinate pigs as well. But, KARA cautioned in a statement on its website, "mass vaccination does not include piglets. It is likely that pigs will remain the least protected animals" from the dangers of foot-and-mouth.