According to the BBC, the pigs were slaughtered by South Korean officials to help stop the spread of African swine fever (ASF) which is deadly to pigs but is not dangerous to humans.
The pigs’ carcasses were left inside of multiple trucks at a burial site for the animals. The burials couldn’t be carried out immediately because of a delay in the production of plastic containers used for burial, however, heavy rains caused the blood to flow from those trucks into a tributary of the Imjin River.
African swine fever is highly contagious and incurable, with a near-zero survival rate for infected pigs, but it is not dangerous to humans.
Local officials are not worried about the river’s pollution impacting other animals, saying the pigs were disinfected before being slaughtered. Those officials also say emergency steps have been taken to prevent further pollution to the river, although it’s unclear what steps were taken.
Once infected with ASF, pigs have a near zero-percent survival rate. ASF was recently discovered in South Korea, and speculation in the country suggests the disease may have come from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea.
Since, much of Asia has seen infections of ASF including Vietnam, the Philippines, and China. China has culled 1.2 million pigs since the outbreak.
The idea of rivers turning to blood has long been associated with the apocalypse as detailed in the Book of Revelations in the New Testament of the Holy Bible.
ASF was only discovered in South Korea recently, and there was speculation it arrived via pigs crossing the heavily guarded demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the North and South.
The first case of ASF was recorded in North Korea in May, and the South made great efforts to keep it out, including border fences. The South Korean military was authorized to kill any wild boars seen crossing the DMZ.
Despite the precautions, South Korea reported its first case on 17 September – with the total now at 13. There are around 6,700 pig farms in South Korea.
Much of Asia has been affected by the outbreak, including China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Some 1.2 million pigs have been culled in China alone.