Albert Retief noticed a phenomenon that was foreign to him, being from South Africa, where pets are mostly treated differently, when he moved to Ganghwa Island, northwestern Korea, in 2010.

All the dogs were tied up or in cages.

“I started to explore more of the island while documenting chained dogs,” said Retief. “I returned in 2012 and was based in Yongmun, where I continued this project. Now, 4 years later, I feel like it’s time to say farewell to Korea and at the same time show viewers some of the miserable conditions these dogs find themselves living in.”

“I’m not an animal rights campaigner,” Retief explained. “I’d like to create some thought, maybe more with Koreans, but I know I won’t change much for I’m just passing through and this was what I saw.

He continued: “Korea has many interesting contrasts, and this is one of them. Girls walk around Seoul in high heels with a Louis Vuitton handbag and a chihuahua dog with cute shoes, while their parents might live in the countryside where they chain their dog, feed it leftover Kimchi, and forget to clean its shit.”

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To gain more context on animal rights in Korea, read Deva Lee’s in-depth essay or go to Korea Animal Rights Advocates’ website for some FAQs.

Albert is currently travelling through Central Asia by means of public transport, making his way from Tokyo to Istanbul while shooting photos along the way. View more of his photography on his Flickr page or follow daily updates on his blog and Instagram @albertretief as he makes his way West.