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N. Korean Gift Dogs Mark Decade Living in S. Korea

Posted June. 16, 2010 13:17,   


North Korea gave a pungsan breed dog couple to South Korea on June 13, 2000. Indigenous to the Korean Peninsula, the dogs were gifts from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to visiting South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in the first inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

The two dogs were named “Independent” and “Unity” while in the North, but Kim Dae-jung renamed them “Uri (we)” and “Duri (two)” to deliver the message, “South and North Korea take a step forward toward compromise and cooperation.”

The dogs lived at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae for five months in Seoul before being transferred to Seoul Zoo in the southern suburb of Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, in November that year. Despite their move, they have continued to receive royal treatment.

Since the dogs symbolize friendly ties between the two Koreas, the couple has been considered “state guests” over the past 10 years. Other animals are confined to their habitats surrounded by fences for observation by visitors, but the two freely hang around escorted by animal breeders. They take a walk around the park in the morning and evening.

The dogs also live in upscale housing. A hanging board with a photo of them hangs at the entrance to a room exclusively for the two. The room has a garden furnished with a small lake and a cozy indoor space that shelters them from rain or snow.

Unlike other dogs at the zoo, which get food for breeding, the two pungsan dogs eat the same high-end feed they got at the presidential office. The feed is also fortified with a peptic to help them digest meals.

When they first came to the South, they were puppies and just two months old. They are now the advanced dog age of 10, which is equivalent to age 70 for humans.

Their fur used to be as white as snow, but now shows hints of gray hair. Duri, which can hardly chew due to lack of stamina, eats feed chewed by her caring husband.

Uri and Duri have given birth to 15 puppies by themselves and a combined 75 puppies with with four other dogs. Seoul Zoo introduced more dogs from Pyongyang Zoo in 1999 as part of an exchange of inter-Korean indigenous wild animals.

These second-generation pungsan dogs have been distributed to six zoos nationwide, including those in Cheongju, Daejeon, Daegu, Jeju Island, Gwangju and Jinju to give people in provincial regions a chance to see Korean dogs originally from the North.