SEOUL — South Korea’s former President Moon Jae-in is trying to give up two dogs given to him by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, citing a lack of support from Seoul, his office said Monday.
The white Pungsan dogs, a male named Songkang and a female named Gomi, were given to Moon by Kim after their third summit in Pyongyang in September 2018 as a token of their blossoming friendship.
The couple gave birth to seven puppies during Moon’s presidency, and he had brought Songkang, Gomi and a puppy to his private residence after his tenure ended in May of this year.
Under the Presidential Records Act, the dogs are legally government property that must be returned to the custody of the Presidential Archives, but an agreement was signed to entrust Moon with the three dogs on the last day of his term, his office said in a statement.
According to local reports, the agreement included a provision for government support to cover the costs of keeping the dogs totaling 2.5 million won ($1,800) per month.
However, Moon’s office said the agreement has not been implemented due to an objection from the presidential office of his successor, Yoon Suk-yeol, adding that Moon is ready to hand over custody of his dogs.
“Looking at the progress so far, the Office of the President appears reluctant to entrust the management of the Pungsan dogs to former President Moon,” his office said in a statement.
“If that’s the case, then we can be open about it,” it said, adding that Moon is willing to end his detention if the government had come up with a better management plan.
The presidential office dismissed the Moon office’s claims and said talks between relevant ministries were still ongoing.
The dogs’ fate sparked a wave of public concern and criticism, with social media users begging the trio to take over.
“Dogs are part of the family. How can you send them away just for money?” asked a user.
Another commented: “As a person who has a dog this is hard to understand. If I can, I would take the dogs.”
Known for loyalty and intelligence, the Pungsan breed—a hunting dog with a thick, creamy-white coat, pointed ears, and hazel eyes—is originally from a northern area of the same name. — Agence France-Presse