South Korea’s public broadcaster has apologized over the death last year of a horse that was tripped during the filming of a stunt, in a case that has sparked outcry from animal rights advocates.
The horse fell on November 2 while filming a scene for period drama “The King of Tears, Lee Bang-won,” Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) said in a statement Thursday.
The statement said the stunt required an actor riding the horse to fall off and the production team had “prepared and checked … in case of an accident.”
“But despite these efforts, there was an accident in which the actor fell far from the horse and the horse’s upper body hit the ground,” the statement said. The horse died about a week after filming, it added.
“We cannot help but feel a deep sense of responsibility that the unfortunate incident has happened,” the statement said. “We apologize to viewers again for failing to prevent the accident in advance.”
In a video posted to the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA) Instagram page on Thursday, an actor in traditional costume can be seen riding a black horse, which has a rope tied to one of its back legs.
As the rope gets tighter, the horse falls face first into the ground, sending the actor flying into the air, the video shows. The horse can then be seen kicking its rear legs while its head remains still.
In a statement Thursday, KAWA criticized the production crew for allegedly failing to check the horse’s condition after it fell.
“Right after the filming, staff ran to check on the actor that fell on the ground,” KAWA said. “But no one checked the condition of the horse.”
And public anger was mounting on social media.
“They’re not even thinking about the horse getting injured. The neck has completely twisted, it’s so violent. I’m not watching this drama,” one person wrote below KAWA’s Instagram post.
Another vowed to never watch the drama again, adding they were “really really disappointed” by the “animal cruelty situation.”
South Korea has laws against animal abuse, but rights groups have long lobbied for stricter implementation of them.
In 2019, there were 914 cases of animal abuse compared to 69 in 2010, Reuters reported, citing data published by a lawmaker’s office.
Causing injury to an animal for the purpose of gambling, advertising, amusement or entertainment is illegal in the country, punishable by up to two years in prison.
A petition started by KAWA on Thursday, urging the government to implement stricter animal safety laws on film sets, has received nearly 80,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon local time.
KAWA said it will work with KBS to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
Additional reporting by Reuters.