Animal rights activists accuse ex-president of abandoning North Korean dogs
‘A commitment to be an animal’s guardian is a commitment for life’
By Jung Min-ho
Animal rights activists are criticizing former President Moon Jae-in for his decision to return his dogs ― given by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a gift following their 2018 summit ― to a government facility, saying that he should not treat the dogs as if they are objects.
“Mr. Moon should not abandon the dogs or be forced to abandon them. As their guardian, it is his responsibility and privilege to care for their physical and emotional needs,” Patti Kim, head of Jindo Love Rescue, an animal rights group, told The Korea Times. “A commitment to be an animal’s guardian is a commitment for life.”
The statement came after Moon decided to give up a pair of white Pungsan dogs ― “Gomi” and “Songgang.” While they are currently undergoing medical examinations at a veterinary hospital in Daegu before being sent to a state facility, which remains undecided, their puppy named “Daun” will continue to live with Moon at his house in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province.
A lack of government support was the main reason behind the decision. In his message on social media, Wednesday, Moon said the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has delayed approving an enforcement ordinance for him ― an agreement made while he was in office.
The administrative rule change would strengthen the legal basis for his right to keep the dogs ― state property as a gift given while in office ― and provide him with the proposed financial support of about 2.5 million won ($1,800) a month.
But given that “an institution” ― the secretary office of a former president, in this case ― is already allowed to manage animals under Article 6 of the current enforcement ordinance on presidential records management, critics believe the key issue was money. After being elected, Yoon Suk-yeol, known as a dog lover, also openly supported the idea of Moon taking the dogs with him. They lived with Moon for more than four years.
“There are people talking about the cost of dog food. I do not know whether they know the retired president (I) paid for all the expenses,” Moon wrote. “I even paid for the expenses of bringing the dogs to Yangsan (from the presidential office) and taking them to a Presidential Archives-designated place (the veterinary hospital). It should be appreciated that I took care of them with affection free of charge over the past six months.”
Moon added he would continue to live with the dogs only if he can gain legal ownership.
Regardless of legal issues, animal rights activists say his view of animals is deeply flawed.
“Animals are not objects, and they are not our property. Gomi, Songgang, and their puppy should never have been misclassified as state property, when in fact, they are part of former President Moon’s family,” Kim said.
Eun-young, lead organizer at the Korea office of Direct Action Everywhere, an animal rights organization based in California, lamented that the sorry episode of the Pungsan dogs shows how Korean society as a whole treats animals.
As a presidential candidate, Moon pledged to strengthen animal rights in an apparent bid to appeal to more than 10 million voters living with their animal companions. After a summit in Pyongyang in September 2018, Moon’s office uploaded the pictures of him interacting with the animals from the North on social media from time to time. Many viewed them as the symbol of ― or at least meaningful progress toward ― peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Beagle Rescue Network, a Korean animal rights group, expressed disappointment in Moon, questioning the sincerity of his political steps supposedly for animal rights.
“Regardless of the reasons, giving up adoption is giving up responsibility, which is the virtue of a leader who was once respected as the (South) Korean president,” the group said in a statement. “We are witnessing the leader giving up the responsibility for life due to political reasons. We implore you to end the era in which living creatures are being used for politics. Animals are not objects.”
We (WAV) covered a lot on ex President Moon over the years on our other site, SAV which campaigned for stray animals in Serbia; and his election pledge to do a lot better for animals – especially animals kept on South Korean dog meat farms.
Sadly, like so many election promises, once elected, the politicians turn their backs on the subject in question. Check out our past posts below which show the dire conditions in which S. Korean dog farms operate.
(also SAV founder) – About Serbian Animals. | Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)