Former President Moon Jae-in returned to the state a pair of dogs that he had been in custody of since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave them as a gift in 2018, Moon's side and Presidential Archives said on Tuesday.
One male named Songkang and a female named Gomi, both indigenous North Korean Pungsan-breed, were delivered to officials of the Presidential Archives at a university veterinary hospital in Daegu, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul.
After the handover, the Presidential Archives hospitalized the dogs for health examination, its officials said.
A source related to the Presidential Archives said the destination of the dogs remains undecided.
The handover came a day after Moon's side said it wanted to return the dogs, citing a lack of support from the Yoon Suk-yeol government.
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.
The Presidential Archives signed an agreement with Moon to entrust the 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.
In order for Moon to keep the dogs, the state has to revise the Presidential Records Act's enforcement ordinance. But the revision has not been implemented for "unexplained objection" from the presidential office, Moon's side said.
Other than Songkang and Gomi, one of their offsprings, named Dauni, will stay under Moon's custody for a while.
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. (Yonhap)