Dogs gifted by Kim Jong Un at center of South Korean row

Nov 8, 2022, 4:12 AM | Updated: Nov 15, 2022, 7:53 pm
FILE - In this photo provided on Oct. 2018, by South Korea Presidential Blue House, South Korean Pr...

FILE - In this photo provided on Oct. 2018, by South Korea Presidential Blue House, South Korean President Moon Jae-in touches a white Pungsan dog, named Gomi, from North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea. (South Korea Presidential Blue House via AP, File)

(South Korea Presidential Blue House via AP, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A pair of dogs gifted by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018 are now mired in a South Korean political row, with the country’s former president blaming his conservative successor for a lack of financial support as he gave the animals up.

Moon Jae-in, a liberal who left office in May, received the two white “Pungsan” hunting dogs – a breed known to be indigenous to North Korea – from Kim following their peace summit in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in September 2018.

The dogs are officially considered state property, but Moon took the pair and one of their seven offspring home after he left office. The move was made possible by a change of law in March that allowed presidential gifts to be managed outside of the Presidential Archives if they were animals or plants.

But Moon’s office on Monday said he decided he could no longer raise the three dogs because the current government of President Yoon Suk Yeol was refusing to cover the costs for the animals’ food and veterinary care. The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said that the dogs were returned to the government on Tuesday and that the parent dogs originally sent from Kim were being examined at a veterinary hospital in the city of Daegu.

In its statement released on Facebook, Moon’s office accused Yoon’s office of “inexplicably” blocking the ministry’s proposal to provide government funds for the animal’s care.

The ministry confirmed it had drafted a budget plan to provide a monthly 2.5 million won ($1,810) in subsidies, including 500,000 won ($360) for the dogs’ food and veterinary care and 2 million ($1,450) for hiring workers to look after them. But the ministry said the plans were put on hold for months because of unspecified “opposing opinions” from within the ministry and the Ministry of Government Legislation.

“It seems that the presidential office, unlike the Presidential Archives and the Interior and Safety Ministry, has a negative view about entrusting the care of the Pungsan dogs to former President Moon,” Moon’s office said.

If that’s the case, Yoon’s government should be “cool” about ending that entrustment, Moon’s office said.

“There would be disappointment and regrets as they were companion animals (Moon) grew attached to, but there would be no way to reject the termination of entrustment,” it said.

Yoon’s office shifted the blame to Moon, saying it never prevented him from keeping the animals and that the discussions about providing financial support were still ongoing.

“It was entirely the decision of former President Moon Jae-in to return the Pungsan dogs to the Presidential Archives” instead of waiting out a legislative amendment to secure the subsidies, Yoon’s office said.

Moon and Yoon’s spat over the dogs sparked criticism online, with users lamenting that the animals were being treated only as properties.

Staking his single presidential term on inter-Korean rapprochement, Moon met Kim three times in 2018 and lobbied hard to help set up Kim’s meetings with former U.S. President Donald Trump. But the diplomacy never recovered from the collapse of the second Kim-Trump meeting in 2019 in Vietnam, where the Americans rejected North Korea’s demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility, which would have amounted to a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Kim has since vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent to counter “gangster-like” U.S. pressure and sped up his weapons development despite limited resources and pandemic-related difficulties. The North has fired dozens of missiles this year, using the distraction created by Russia’s war on Ukraine to increase arms development and ramp up pressure on the United States and its regional allies.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Chevron sign is displayed outside one of the company's gas stations in Bradenton, Fla., Fe...
Associated Press

Biden eases Venezuela sanctions as opposition talks resume

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Saturday eased some oil sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to support newly restarted negotiations between President Nicolás Maduro’s government and its opposition. The Treasury Department is allowing Chevron to resume “limited” energy production in Venezuela after years of sanctions that have dramatically curtailed oil and gas profits […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge denies bid for new trial in Whitmer kidnapping case

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a new trial request by two men convicted of conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Lawyers for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. alleged misconduct by a juror and unfairness by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker following their conviction by a federal jury […]
12 hours ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.  A federa...
Associated Press

Judge denies 19-year-old’s ask to attend father’s execution

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request from a 19-year-old woman to allow her to watch her father’s death by injection, upholding a Missouri law that bars anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution. Kevin Johnson is set to be executed Tuesday for killing Kirkwood, Missouri, Police Officer William McEntee in […]
12 hours ago
FILE - This March 6, 2014, file photo shows the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation's only unde...
Associated Press

US nuclear waste repository begins filling new disposal area

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Workers at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository have started using a newly mined disposal area at the underground facility in southern New Mexico. Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant made the announcement this week, saying the first containers of waste to be entombed in the new area came […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at the Broward County Courthouse i...
Associated Press

New state voter fraud units finding few cases from midterms

WASHINGTON (AP) — State-level law enforcement units created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the midterms but have provided no indication of systemic problems. That’s just what election experts had expected and led critics to suggest that the new units were more […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Liability finding in Conley rape allegation to be appealed

CLEVELAND (AP) — An attorney is vowing an appeal for a woman found liable by a civil jury for malicious prosecution in a rape allegation she made against a former Ohio State football standout more than five years ago. The woman’s attorney, Patrick Thomas, said his client “deserves justice and patiently waited for her day […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Dogs gifted by Kim Jong Un at center of South Korean row