Dogs gifted by Kim Jong-un caught in South Korean presidential custody
It Pungsan hunting dogs – the favorite breed is native to North Korea – called Songang and Gomi. During Moon’s presidency, they gave birth to seven puppies, and when he left office, he took the parents and one child to his private residence.
It was an unprecedented move because the trio, as official government property, had to be returned to the presidential archives under the requirements of the Presidential Records Act. But after negotiations with the archives and the interior ministry, Moon was entrusted with the care of the dogs, according to his office. The ministry even pursued a legislative amendment to implement the move.
But like many custody disputes, money seems to have gotten in the way.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported on Monday that the ministry proposed a monthly budget of 2.5 million won ($1,800) in public funds to cover the cost of pet food and veterinary care. Moon’s office said the plan fell through because of “inexplicable opposition” from the Yun administration.
“It appears that the presidential office is negative about entrusting the management of the Pungsan dogs to former President Moon,” the statement said. “If that’s the case, we can be cool with it.”
The statement noted Moon’s “regret” at having to return the “companion animals with which he was attached.”
The plight of the dogs caused an uproar online, with many South Koreans questioning how they could be treated as standard property and offering to adopt the family themselves.
Moon’s claim was also denied by President Yun’s office, which said relevant departments were still discussing the situation. Kwon Son-doong, a lawmaker from the ruling People’s Power party, criticized the former president’s action, calling it “shameful.”
“Is he giving up the dogs because he can no longer afford to pay for food and care with tax money?” Queon asked on Facebook.
Dogs have been a recurring symbol of warming relations between the rival Koreas. In 2000, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il gave his South Korean counterpart Kim Dae-jung two poongsan dogs. Seoul countered with two Jindo dogs In the name of peace and reunification.
Neither side in this week’s dispute provided full details on the monthly pet costs, which total $21,600 a year. Songgang and Gomi remained out of sight.
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