Dogs donated by North’s Kim relocate to South Korean zoo
Seoul, South Korea — A pair of dogs donated by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un four years ago have ended up in a zoo in South Korea after a dispute over who should fund animal care.
Kim had given the two white Pungsan hunting dogs – a breed indigenous to North Korea – to South Korean President Moon Jae-in as gifts after their summit talks in Pyongyang in 2018. But the liberal Moon gave up on the dogs last month. last, citing a lack of financial support for the dogs from the current conservative government led by President Yoon Suk Yeol.
The dogs, named Gomi and Songgang, were transferred to a local government-run zoo in the southern city of Gwangju last Friday after a temporary stay at a veterinary hospital in the southeastern city of Daeju. said zoo officials.
In the presence of Gwangju Mayor Kang Gijung, the dogs were paraded Monday with their badges around their necks as journalists and other visitors took photos.
“Gomi and Songgang are a symbol of peace and reconciliation and South-North Korean cooperation. We will raise them well as we cultivate a seed for peace,” Kang said, according to his office.
The dogs have six descendants between them, all born after arriving in South Korea. One of them, named Byeol, has been bred at Gwanju Zoo since 2019. The other five are in other zoos and a public facility in South Korea.
Gwangju Zoo officials said they would try to breed Byeol and his parent dogs together, although they are currently being kept separately as they do not recognize each other.
Gomi and Songgang are officially owned by the state. While in office, Moon raised them at the presidential residence. After leaving office in May, Moon was able to take them home thanks to a law change that allowed presidential gifts to be handled outside the presidential archives if they were animals or plants.
But in early November, Moon’s office accused the Yoon government of refusing to cover the cost of the dogs’ food and veterinary care. Yoon’s office denied the accusation, saying it never stopped Moon from keeping the animals and talks about providing financial support were still ongoing.
Moon, a champion of reconciliation with North Korea, has been credited with organizing now dormant diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program, but has also been criticized for his politics of engagement that helped Kim win. time and to strengthen his country’s nuclear capability in the face of international sanctions. Yoon accused Moon’s engagement policy “of being subject” to North Korea.
In 2000, Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, presented another pair of Pungsan dogs to South Korean President Kim Dae-jung after they met in Pyongyang, the first inter-Korean summit since their split in 1948. Liberal Kim Dae- Jung gave two Jindo dogs – a breed native to a South Korean island – to Kim Jong Il. The North Korean dogs lived in a public zoo near Seoul before they died in 2013.