Moon expresses wish to return 3 N.K. dogs to state

SEOUL– Former President Moon Jae-in’s side said Monday it wants to return to the state a pair of dogs and their puppy he has been keeping after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave the pair as a gift in 2018, citing a lack of support from the Yoon Suk-yeol government.

The North’s leader sent the pair of Pungsan-breed dogs, one male named Songkang and a female named Gomi, to Moon after their third summit in Pyongyang in September 2018.

Moon then took the two dogs and one puppy to his private residence in Yangsan, 420 kilometers southeast of Seoul, following his retirement in May this year.

Under the Presidential Records Act, the North Korean dogs, classified as presidential records, are barred from staying with Moon after his retirement and were supposed to be returned to the Presidential Archives in principle.

But the Presidential Archives signed an agreement with Moon to entrust the three dogs to him on May 9, the last day of his five-year tenure, due to its absence of facilities to breed animals and from the viewpoint of animal welfare.

The agreement reportedly stipulates that supplies and expenses necessary for breeding and managing the dogs can be paid within the budget.

Moon’s side expressed an intent to hand over custody of the three dogs to the state in a press release issued on Monday, saying a follow-up measure to the May 9 agreement, or the revision of the Presidential Records Act’s enforcement ordinance, has not been implemented.

The press release said there was an agreement on the revision of the enforcement ordinance but it has not been submitted to the Cabinet meeting apparently due to an “unexplained objection” from the presidential office.

The presidential office denied the claims, saying discussions about the enforcement ordinance are under way between relevant parties and that it was “entirely the decision of former President Moon Jae-in’s side” to return the dogs without waiting for a revision.

According to the interior ministry officials, Moon’s side has recently asked the Presidential Archives to begin discussions on where and how to raise the three dogs.

The request was reportedly made as the cost of raising the three dogs has reached about 2.5 million won (US$1,783) a month.

The Pungsan breed of dogs originates from a mountainous region of the North. They are known to be agile, clever and ferocious to beasts, but friendly and loyal to their human masters.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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