A pair of dogs given to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un four years ago have ended up in a South Korean zoo after a dispute over who should pay for the animals’ care.
Kim gave the two White Pungsan Dogs — a breed native to North Korea — to then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in as gifts after their summit talks in Pyongyang in 2018.
But Moon gave up the dogs last month, citing a lack of financial support for the dogs from the conservative government led by Yoon Suk-yul.
Zoo officials said the dogs, named Gumi and Songjang, were transferred to a zoo run by local officials in the southern city of Gwangju after a temporary stay at a veterinary hospital in the southeastern city of Daegu.
In the presence of Gwangju Mayor Kang Jaejoong, the dogs were shown on Monday with their badges around their necks while reporters and visitors took pictures.
Gumi and Songgang are symbols of peace, reconciliation and cooperation between South Korea and North Korea. According to his office, Kang said, “We will raise them as we sow seeds of peace.”
The dogs have six offspring between them, all of whom were born after their arrival from South Korea. One of them, named Byeol, has been bred at Gwangju Zoo since 2019. The other five are housed in other zoos and a public facility in South Korea.
Gwangju Zoo officials said they will try to breed Byul and her mother dogs together, even though they are separated because they don’t recognize each other.
Gumi and Songgang are officially state property, and during his tenure Moon promoted them to the presidential residence. After leaving office in May, Moon was able to send them home due to a change in the law that allowed presidential gifts to be administered 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 dog food and veterinary care. Yoon’s office denied the charge, saying Moon was not prohibited from keeping animals and that discussions about providing financial support were continuing.
Moon, a champion of rapprochement with North Korea, has been credited with orchestrating now-dormant diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program, but he has also been criticized for his policy of engagement that bought Kim time and for promoting his country’s nuclear capability in the United States. Facing the international crisis. Penalties. Yun accused Moon’s engagement policy of “subservience” to North Korea.
In 2000, Kim’s late father, Kim Jong-il, presented another pair of Pongsan dogs to then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung after a meeting in Pyongyang, the first inter-Korean summit since their separation in 1948. Kim Dae-jung, a liberal, gave Two Jindo dogs – a breed native to the island of South Korea – for Kim Jong Il. North Korean dogs lived in a public zoo near Seoul before dying in 2013.