African swine fever spreads to South Korea

South Korea is the latest country hit by African swine fever, a disease currently devastating neighbouring pig producing nations such as China.

South Korean authorities have raised the country’s alert to the highest level after discovering its first outbreak of ASF.

The disease was detected at a pig farm in Paju on Tuesday (17 September), a town close to the North Korean border.

South Korea’s agriculture minister Kim Hyeon-soo said that nearly 4,000 pigs would be culled.

“We will make all efforts to stop the spread of African swine fever through swift disinfection measures,” he said.

The ministry has also put in place a countrywide movement ban of pigs for two days.

Pork is the country’s most popular meat. The average South Korean consumed 27kg of the meat last year, according to government data.

In the first eight months of this year, South Korea imported 374,961 tonnes of pork, down 3.6% from 388,772 tonnes over the same period a year earlier, according to customs data.

In 2018, South Korea’s pork imports were over 570,000 tonnes.

The news follows African swine fever confirmation in the Philippines, leading authorities to perform mass culls at farms in two of the country’s northern provinces.

The disease has already spread widely across Asia, significantly affecting China and parts of Europe such as Slovakia and Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, the UK pig industry has called for a more robust approach from Defra as farming minister George Eustice recently admitted an outbreak of ASF is ‘likely within a year’.