Back To Top

Animal activist group Gaon accused of embezzling donations

On the heels of a recent embezzlement scandal at the animal protection organization CARE, another animal protection group known as Gaon now stands accused of appropriating donations.

Seo Sun-il, head of Gaon, was indicted without detention Sunday on suspicion of embezzling donations and using them for his personal use.

Seo allegedly misused approximately 98 million won ($87,150) worth of donations received by the group between November 2016 and April 2018. The funds were donated by some 1,000 people to support rescue operations and to shut down dog farms. 

(Gaon Facebook)
(Gaon Facebook)

Of that amount, prosecutors say 78 million won was used to cover Seo’s rent, overseas travel expenses and car payments.

Seo is alleged to have falsified financial statements and misrepresented rescue photos from other pro-animal organizations as evidence of Gaon’s work.

During the investigation, prosecutors say, Seo was found to have collected donations without registering Gaon with the government. The prosecution has additionally charged Seo with violating the Act on Collection and Use of Donations.

Seo denied embezzling any donations, saying he had used part of the funds as his salary and that such use was in compliance with the organization’s bylaws. But the act requires that anyone who intends to collect 10 million won or more in donations register with the government and submit a plan indicating how the donations will be used.

If convicted of embezzlement under the Criminal Act, Seo could face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won. If convicted of failing to register Gaon under the Act on Collection and Use of Donations, he could face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won.

By Lee Tae-hee (