Yet another country is making strides toward ending cosmetics testing on animals - an industry that has been reviled for its cruelty for years.
The new "Five Year Plan for Animal Welfare" was announced this week by Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The first phase of the plan will ban testing on finished products - but their individual ingredients and any products imported from other countries are still allowed to be tested on animals.
The country is also investigating alternative methods to animal testing - nine have already been approved for use in the cosmetics industry and two are pending.
The country has been working with the group Cruelty Free International, an organization that advocates for nations to adopt cosmetics testing bans. The plan follows in the footsteps of the European Union, which began a similar effort in 2004 with a ban on animal testing for finished cosmetic products and in 2013, the EU enacted a complete ban. South Korea joins China, India, Israel, Norway and Brazil, all of which have made similar efforts to end animal testing for cosmetics recently.
But some countries, including the U.S., are lagging behind, with products like perfume, skin cream, lipstick, nail polish still being tested on animals.
"We will now be urging implementation as soon as possible so that the full ban can be achieved at the earliest possible date, bringing Korea into line with Europe and India," Michelle Thew, chief executive of Cruelty Free International, said in a release. "We hope to see this echoed in 2015 by other Asian countries where we are active. This is a great start to the New Year."
Animal advocates say that rabbits, pigs, mice and guinea pigs suffer needlessly in cosmetics tests, which often involve force feeding, rubbing chemicals on skin or dripping it into their eyes. A technique called "lethal dose" also involves forcing animals to eat a certain amount of a toxic chemical until it kills them. See this page for more information on cosmetics testing on animals - and how to support banning it.