South Korean sentenced to 14 months in jail for killing 76 cats

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean man has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for killing 76 cats in one of the country's most gruesome cases of animal cruelty in recent years.

The man, who is in his 20s, was convicted of violating South Korea’s animal protection law last week, the Changwon District Court in southeastern South Korea said Tuesday. The court did not identify the man.

The man went on a cat-killing spree between December 2022 and September 2023 due to a deep hatred of the animal that he began harboring after other cats scratched his car, according to a court verdict seen by The Associated Press.

He had caught stray cats and adopted others from online sites before strangling some to death and killing others with scissors, the court order said. He killed one cat by running it over with a car, the court said.

The court ruled that the prison sentence was unavoidable because he repeatedly committed “indescribably cruel” crimes in a premeditated manner.

It stressed that the sentence still reflected the fact that the man had no criminal records and repented his crimes, adding that the man's unspecified mental health status was found to be a motive for his crimes.

The man appealed the ruling.

“The sentence reflects Korean society’s increasing concern for animal welfare and intolerance for senseless cruelty such as this,” said Borami Seo, a director of the South Korea office of the Humane Society International.

“This cruelty case also emphasizes the importance of passing the Civil Act amendment that will legally recognize animals as living beings and further strengthen their protection in law,” Seo added.