(SEOUL) Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in wants to give up custody of two dogs donated by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, due to lack of government financial support, his office said Monday.
Posted at 7:01 a.m.
The Pungsan pedigree dogs, a male named Songkang and a female named Gomi, were sent to Mr Moon by the North Korean leader as a gift after their third summit in Pyongyang in September 2018, as a token of their rapid diplomatic rapprochement with then.
Songkang and Gomi gave birth to seven puppies during the presidency of Moon Jae-in, who took the couple and a pup to his private residence after his term ended in May this year.
Under current law, the dogs are legally state property that must be turned over to the presidential archives, but an agreement was signed to hand over the three dogs to Mr Moon on his last day in office, said his office in a statement.
The deal included a provision for government assistance to cover dog-sitting costs, totaling 2.5 million won (about $1,790) per month, according to local reports.
But a spokesman for the former head of state said it was not implemented due to an objection from the presidential office of his successor Yoon Suk-yeol, adding that Mr. Moon was willing to give up custody of his dogs.
“In view of the progress made so far, the presidential office appears to be unfavorable to the idea of handing over the management of the Pungsan dogs to former President Moon,” his office said in a statement.
“If so, we can be candid about it,” he said, adding that Moon was ready to end his custody if the government came up with a better management plan.
The presidential office denied the claims by Moon’s office, saying discussions between relevant ministries were still ongoing.
The fate of the Pungsan dogs has sparked public outrage, with netizens asking to take them in.
“Dogs are a family. How can they be sent away simply for a question of money? “denounces a user.
Another commented: “As someone who has a dog, I find it hard to come to terms with this idea. If I could, I would take the dogs.”
Known for their loyalty and intelligence, the Pungsan breed – a hunting dog with a thick creamy-white coat, pointy ears and hazel eyes – hails from the region of the same name in North Korea.