President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol suggested Wednesday that President Moon Jae-in should keep his local breed Pungsan dogs, which were gifted to him by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The dogs, named Gomi and Songang, were given by Kim during the Inter-Korean Summit of 2018 as a symbol of peace in the peninsula. The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae confirmed hours earlier that the dogs belong to the state, as the gifts were for the president of South Korea, not Moon himself.
“If (Moon) were to hand over the dogs to me, I will do my best to take care of them... But from the perspective of the animals themselves, I think it would be better for them to be with someone who has cared for them all along,” Yoon said.
President Moon Jae-in with his Pungsan dog Songang. (Cheong Wa Dae)
The Public Service Ethics Act stipulates that gifts received by a public official -- including the president -- related to his or her post belong to the state. Gifts to the president are usually kept in the Presidential Archives, which is impossible for Gomi and Songang as they are living creatures.
The Pungsan dog is a hunting dog breed indigenous to the Korean Peninsula, which is also the national dog of North Korea. Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the late father of the current leader, also gave a pair of Pungsan dogs to former South Korean leader late Kim Dae-jung during their inter-Korean Summit in 2000.