South Korea: First step to ending animal tests


On 11 March 2015 the South Korea National Assembly launched a bill that marks an initial milestone towards ending animal testing of cosmetics in the country. Unfortunately, it is not yet a full prohibition as it only bans animal testing where accepted non-animal alternatives are available. If an alternative is not available, the animal test will be allowed.

#BeCrueltyFree’s South Korea campaigner and Lush Prize judge Borami Seo said: “Our #BeCrueltyFree campaign has worked closely with Congresswoman Moon and Ministers and we are pleased to see South Korea take this first step toward ending cosmetics animal testing. We congratulate the Congresswoman, but we will continue to explore legislative measures to close loopholes and achieve a robust ban on all animal testing of cosmetics. Only then will Korea become a truly cruelty-free cosmetics market.”

Claire Mansfield, #BeCrueltyFree campaigns director, added: “It is gratifying that #BeCrueltyFree’s nationwide campaigning and detailed policy discussions with legislators in Korea have created the political momentum to see this bill launched. However, it would be naïve and disingenuous to gloss over the fact that the bill contains several exemptions that could still allow some animal testing to continue well beyond 2017. So after the celebrations are over, #BeCrueltyFree will continue its work to achieve a comprehensive ban on cosmetic animal testing in Korea.”

Dr Carol Barker-Treasure, founder of the alternatives company XCellR8 Ltd, and winner of the Lush Prize 2013 for Training, commented: “We must always acknowledge progress, but with the entire EU, Israel and India all leading the way with watertight bans against all cosmetics animal testing regardless of the availability of alternative tests, it’s disappointing that South Korea has chosen a less ambitious path. Developing alternatives is undeniably important to improve the quality of science, but where animal testing of vanity products such as cosmetics is concerned, a lack of alternatives should never be allowed to stand in the way of the ethically right course of action, and in this case that would be a total test ban.”


  • The current bill exempts several product categories and types of ingredients from the scope of the ban, including preservatives, colourants and sunscreen chemicals;
  • The current bill only bans animal testing where there are Korean government-accepted alternatives, whereas the EU, Israel and India all ban animal testing regardless of the status of alternatives because these countries recognize that companies have access to thousands of existing cosmetic ingredients with safe use histories which do not require further testing of any kind;
  • The current bill would allow ingredients that are animal tested for other regulatory purposes to be used in cosmetics;
  • The current bill would allow cosmetics tested on animals to meet mandatory requirements in other countries to be sold in Korea.

This information is taken from the website of Humane Society International