South Korea has hinted it may bow to international pressure and abandon its plan to resume scientific whaling.
Last week the government announced would use a loophole in the global whaling moratorium to resume the killing of whales in its own waters for so-called scientific research, the ABC reports.
New Zealand, Australia and the United States denounce the plan, while Greenpeace have described it as "thinly described commercial whaling".
But on Wednesday, a senior official at South Korea's Fisheries Ministry said the country may not carry out the plan to resume whaling, if there were non-lethal ways of studying the mammals.
If it goes ahead, South Korea would be the fourth country to kill whales, excluding allowances for indigenous groups.
Norway and Iceland openly defy the 1986 ban on commercial whaling, saying they believe that stocks are healthy.
Japan already uses the loophole for scientific research, with the meat then being sold for human consumption.