The Korea Herald


[Weekender] Pet care industry thrives with creative services

From smart pet gadgets to insurance, health care and nutrition, the pet economy is growing

By Lee Sun-young

Published : Oct. 18, 2019 - 09:57

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An aging dog gets acupuncture treatment for its aching joints. A young puppy attends a “dog kindergarten” two to three days a week to nurture social skills. 

(123rf) (123rf)

With nearly 1 in 5 Korean households owning pets and many treating them as full-fledged members of the family, a pampered pooch is no longer restricted to Hollywood celebrities.

Korea’s fast evolving pet scene is churning out creative new products and services from smart pet trackers to nonalcoholic pet beers. Pet care is a red hot industry, backed by the legions of the “pet-fam tribe” who assert pets are family.

“The pet care industry has grown at an average 14.1 percent annually for the past three years to reach 2.3 trillion won ($1.9 billion) at the end of 2017. It is expected to grow more than 10 percent a year to reach 6 trillion won by 2027,” according to a KB Research report. The average household spending on pet dogs came in at 128,000 won per month in 2017 and 120,000 won in the case of cats, the study showed.

With more people willing to spend money for the betterment of their pet’s life, insurance, health care and nutrition are rising as new promising areas on top of conventional pet products and existing grooming and veterinary services.

Technology is also presenting a new way of pet parenting with internet of things-based smart gadgets allowing owners to feed, tidy up or entertain pets even when not at home. 

(Korea Rural Economic Institute) (Korea Rural Economic Institute)

The number of companies in pet breeding, pet sales and pet cremation and funerals rose to 6,078 in 2018, compared to 4,180 in 2016. There were over 4,000 independent service providers, such as grooming shops, pet day care centers and pet taxis. The number of jobs created by the pet economy is expected to top 41,000 in 2020, Korea Rural Economic Institute predicts.

Pet-related jobs so far were mostly in the areas of grooming and veterinary care, but the Korean Kennel Club expects a diversification of skills in pet care going forward. Pet taxi drivers, pet product designers and pet nutritionists are some of the new emerging jobs.

Seoul’s Seodaemum District Office is among many institutions offering a free, 100-plus-hour education program for aspiring pet sitters. The program is popular among stay-at-home moms looking for part-time work in particular.

“We hope this will help job seekers find employment at pet cafes, pet day care centers or various other businesses in the pet industry,” said District Mayor Moon Seok-jin.

By Lee Sun-young (