Suspicion deepening over alleged workplace abuse by star dog trainer

Suspicions are deepening over Kang Hyung-wook, a famed dog trainer and TV personality, due to his prolonged silence on allegations of employee mistreatment at his private dog training business. Kang became famous as a professional dog trainer after starring in EBS TV's dog training entertainment program "There Are No Bad Dogs in the World" between 2015 and 2018. The 39-year-old then gained further popularity and earned the nickname "dog president" after having regularly appeared on a weekly dog training program, "Dog is Great," on KBS, the national broadcaster of South Korea, since late 2019. Due to his rise to stardom, Kang's private dog training business named Bodeum Co. has also boomed, raising the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel "Kang Hyung-wook's Bodeum TV" to 2.1 million. The controversy erupted over the weekend, when local media began to report revelations of alleged workplace harassment and abuse at Bodeum Co. posted by people claiming to be its former employees on an online recruitm ent and job search platform. According to the online posts, Kang and his wife, who serves as the company's executive, are accused of using violent language against employees, attempting to surveil and gaslight them and asking them to run excessive errands on off days, among others. One post said, "I quit here and got mental therapy due to panic disorder, anxiety disorder and depression. My mind has been devastated by the continuous gaslighting, blasphemy of character and continuous work requests after hours." Another former employee claimed that the management of Bodeum Co. prohibited workers from using the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk and allowed them to use only designated messengers to monitor their messages. Other former employees also contended in comments on Kang's YouTube channel and online communities that they were asked to run excessive errands while on leave and stop giving food to dogs if their owners failed to pay training fees on time. Many of the former employees demanded an apology or explanation from Kang but he has yet to respond to the allegations. Yonhap News Agency tried to contact Kang by phone but he did not answer. Bodeum Co. announced on its website that it will completely terminate its dog training service on June 30 this year. Amid the escalating controversy, KBS canceled the airing of the "Dog is Great" program on Monday. Kang has also canceled his planned appearance at a dog trekking event scheduled to take place in Jeongseon County, Gangwon Province, on Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Employment and Labor said that it has not received any formal report of workplace harassment related to Bodeum Co. Source: Yonhap News Agency