Star dog trainer faces allegations of workplace bullying, harassment

Dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook / Courtesy of Bodeum Company

Star dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook and his dog training business Bodeum Company are receiving criticism for allegedly mistreating employees amid a wave of accusations by former employees.Nicknamed the “dog president,” Kang gained popularity as a professional dog trainer and a TV celebrity after starring in the dog training entertainment series “There is No Bad Dog in the World,” between 2015 and 2018 on EBS.As he ascended to stardom, his dog training center also gained prominence as one of the pioneering facilities specializing in animal behavior education in the country.Kang has over 2.1 million subscribers on his YouTube channel Bodeum TV and over 689,000 followers on Instagram as of Tuesday. Several K-pop stars and celebrities, including BLACKPINK’s Jennie, have appeared on his YouTube channel with their pets, asking for dog training advice.

However, several accusations by those who claim to be former employees have surfaced and embroiled him in controversies surrounding workplace abuse.According to several online posts as of Tuesday, Kang and his wife, who serves as the company executive, surveilled employees’ work messages that were sent using an instant messaging app, used violent language and gaslighted employees.Bodeum Company’s rating is 1.8 out of 5 on Job Planet, an online recruitment and job search platform. Seventeen out of 27 reviews published on the website had a one-star rating, while the majority of reviews contained complaints about its management practices.An online user who claimed to have worked at Kang’s company wrote, “Work only if you are prepared to be abandoned after being enslaved for the rest of your life,” and added, “The salary is minimum wage, but they (Kang and his wife) told us to our faces that it was a waste of money to pay us.”Notably, an anonymous former employee accused Kang of verbal abuse in an appearance on a news program that aired Monday on JTBC. “Don’t breathe, you are wasting air,” Kang allegedly told the employee. “You are less worthy than bugs. Crawl out of here and die.” He was also accused of gaslighting other trainers for being “worthless” and making money off of the Kang name.

Another ex-employee claimed to have been paid 9,670 won ($7) for the final monthly salary after leaving the company. As the former employee filed a complaint to the Ministry of Employment and Labor to demand full payment of wages and severance pay, the company transferred the basic salary and stipend for unused annual leave.Kang’s YouTube channel is also flooded with negative comments, some of which are written by former employees.According to an online user who claims to be a former employee, Kang forced them into “extreme labor in extreme cold and extreme heat,” while humiliating other trainers in front of customers. Kang’s popularity and influence in the industry prevented them from coming forward, the comment read.For a Chuseok gift, Kang gave the alleged former employee six cans of Spam in a dog poop bag, the online user wrote, adding that several former employees have received psychiatric treatment for panic disorder, anxiety and depression.Kang and Bodeum Company have not issued any statements regarding the matter and could not be reached for interview.KBS, the national broadcaster of South Korea, canceled “Dog is Great,” a weekly dog training entertainment program starring Kang, on Monday, in response to the controversy. According to the broadcasting circle, the production crew is considering the cancellation 메이저 of the show.

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