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Star dog trainer faces workplace bullying claims

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : May 26, 2024 - 16:16

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Renowned dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald) Renowned dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

Celebrity dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook and his dog training business Bodeum Company are facing criticism for allegedly mistreating employees.

According to several reviews on Job Planet, an online recruitment and job search platform, Kang and his wife Susan Elder, who serves as the company executive, surveilled employees’ work messages that were sent using an instant messaging app, used violent language, gaslighted employees, and asked them to run excessive errands on their days off.

Starting with those reviews posted, numerous employees have accused Kang and his wife of mistreating their employees. One review said that they had been attending therapy since quitting the job.

“I quit here and got mental therapy due to panic disorder, anxiety disorder and depression," they wrote. "My mind has been devastated by the continuous gaslighting, blasphemy of character and continuous work requests after hours.”

Another former employee accused Kang of berating her with harsh comments like “Stop breathing. It’s such a waste for you to breathe. You’re worse than pests, just crawl away. Just drop dead.”

Regarding the allegation of monitoring the messenger app used by the company, Elder admitted that she looked at the messenger in a YouTube video the couple uploaded Sunday. She explained that there was abnormal use of the messenger app during certain times, so she looked at the messenger log trying to look into the abnormalities.

Then she discovered that the employees were slandering even her young son, so she read the messages that the employees shared.

“When I saw them slandering my son, I became angry, (so I couldn’t stop reading all the messages that the employees shared).”

As for the allegations of verbal abuse, Kang denied them, saying, “These are not the words I usually use. I don't say things like ‘worm’ or ‘crawl.’ I rarely even swear.”

Kang added “I will do my best to explain any issues that may have arisen, and I sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by my actions. But I ask that you stop spreading accusations, slander and falsehoods. I will take legal action if necessary.”

Nicknamed the “dog president,” the 38-year-old entrepreneur gained popularity after appearing on the dog training entertainment program “There is No Bad Dog in the World” which began airing in 2015 on EBS.

As he jumped to stardom, his dog training center also gained prominence as a pioneer of animal behavior education in the country. Kang has over 2.1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel Bodeum TV and over 685,000 followers on Instagram as of Sunday.

Amid mounting criticism, lawyer Park Hoon who served as a full-time attorney for the National Metal Workers Union and now practices law at his own office, mentioned that he would take on the case pro bono against Kang and his company.

“After seeing Kang and his wife's explanation, I got angry so I have decided to represent its former employees for free. If any of those who have been employed by Kang feel wronged, please contact me.”