North Korea uses canine diplomacy to warm ties with South
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North Korea uses canine diplomacy to warm ties with South

NORTH KOREAN leader Kim Jong-un has given his South Korean counterpart Kim Dae-jung a pair of exotic dogs late last week in yet another sign of warming ties between the two estranged neighbours.

Moon’s office issued a statement on Sunday saying the president had received two North Korean indigenous hunting dogs from Pyongyang as a token of blossoming friendship on the peninsula.

“Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office) was offered a pair of Pungsan dogs from the North as a gift at the North-South summit and received them Thursday,” the South’s presidential office said, as quoted by the AFP.

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The office added the canines, both aged around one, were handed over via the truce village of Panmunjom with three kilograms of dog food to “help with their adaptation”.

According to the Chonsunilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, the male dog, named Songkang, was born in November 2017 and the female, Gomi, in March 2017.

The newly arrived pooches will reside at the presidential office with Moon — an animal lover who already owns a Pungsan dog named Maru, a former shelter cat called Jjing-Jjing, and Tory, a black mutt he adopted after taking office.

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This undated handout photo released by South Korea’s presidential Blue House on September 30, 2018 shows a one-year-old Pungsan breed dog gifted from North Korea. Source: AFP

The two pets, which were bred in the Kaema highlands of North Korea, arrived in the South through the truce village of Panmunjom along with 3 kilogrammes of feed last Thursday. They were given a quarantine check before being moved to Cheong Wa Dae the same day.

“Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju showed Moon and the first lady a picture of a pair of Pungsan dogs over dinner on Sept 18 after their summit in Pyongyang and promised to send them,” presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.

Known for its loyalty and cleverness, the Pungsan breed — with thick, creamy white coat, pointy ears and hazel eyes — is one of the National Treasures of North Korea.

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The canine gifts come after a September meeting between Moon and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, at which Kim agreed plans to shutter a missile-testing site and visit Seoul.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung had also received a pair of Pungsan pups after his landmark summit in Pyongyang with then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2000.

The dogs were kept at the Seoul Grand Park and both died of natural causes in 2013 after giving birth to 21 puppies, according to the AFP.