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African Swine Fever in South Korea

On Sept. 17, 2019, South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the country’s first African swine fever (ASF) cases. The ASF outbreaks were at two farms near the border with North Korea, which are separated by about 30 miles.

Through mid-October 2019, 14 outbreaks of ASF have been confirmed in South Korea’s domestic swine herd, with about 150,000 pigs culled in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading. So far all ASF outbreaks are confined to the northwest corner of South Korea, near the border with North Korea. All domestic cases have been in Gyeonggi province, which accounts for 18% (about 2 million head) of South Korea’s 11.3 million head herd. But officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of ASF through feral pigs, as six wild boars found dead in an area north of Seoul.

Korea’s chilled/frozen pork imports through August were 313,400 metric tons (mt), down 5% from last year’s record levels, but still very high compared to most years. U.S. share of imports is steady with last year at 40%. Korea mainly imports bellies from the European Union and picnics and butts from the U.S., although Spain has become a formidable competitor across these categories. Korea’s domestic pork production last year was about 940,000 mt (product weight) and the country has been about 65% self-sufficient in pork production.