The Korea Herald


Late Samsung chairman’s Jindo dog project gets spotlight

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : Sept. 20, 2023 - 16:38

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Visitors pet Jindo dogs at the Samsung Electronics' booth at the world-famous dog show Crufts in 2005. (Samsung Electronics) Visitors pet Jindo dogs at the Samsung Electronics' booth at the world-famous dog show Crufts in 2005. (Samsung Electronics)

Samsung Group late Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s Jindo dog preservation project is getting a renewed spotlight as the group’s guide dog school marks its 30th anniversary this year.

According to industry sources, the late Samsung patriarch acquired 30 Jindos in the late 1960s and strove to increase its population and raise its global awareness.

“I spent days working with breeders, consulting with foreign experts and striving to create purebred Jindo dogs. When the original 30 dogs I acquired had grown to 150, we saw the first purebred pair,” Lee wrote in his autobiography.

After over a decade of effort from the 1960s, he raised a total of 300 Jindo dogs, achieving an 80 percent purebred rate.

Despite being designated as South Korea's 53rd national treasure, the Jindo dog breed lacked global recognition because few purebred dogs existed and its country of origin was not acknowledged globally.

Chairman Lee's commitment extended beyond protecting the near-extinct breed; he actively promoted the excellence of the Jindo breed on a global scale.

In 1979, at a dog breed exhibition in Japan, Lee himself showcased a pair of Jindo dogs, a pivotal move that led to the global recognition of the breed.

In 2005, Lee achieved another milestone by successfully registering the Jindo dog as an official breed with the Kennel Club, Britain's largest organization dedicated to dog health, welfare and training.

The Kennel Club, known for its rigorous evaluation process, recognized the Jindo dog as a breed with "excellent breed standards."

It was in 1993 when Samsung launched the guide dog program, called Samsung Guide Dog School. Since then, the school has donated dozens of dogs for blind people.

And the program continues to thrive 30 years later under Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the late chairman’s only son.

On Tuesday, the junior Lee attended the 30th-anniversary event together with his mother, Hong Ra-hee, former director of the Leeum Museum. It was the first time that Lee and Hong participated in the guide dog event.