March 15, 2017
SEOUL (AP) - It was hard to imagine that ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye could get any more unpopular. But that was before an animal rights group accused her of animal abandonment for leaving nine dogs at the presidential palace before returning to her private home after a court removed her from office over a corruption scandal.
Park's neighbors had given her a pair of Jindo dogs, a Korean breed of hunting dogs, when she left for the presidential Blue House in 2013. The dogs recently gave birth to seven puppies, which are now considered too young to be separated from their mother, Kim Dong-jo, a Blue House spokesman, said Wednesday.
Kim said the dogs would continue to stay at the presidential palace until they're ready to be sent to new owners. Park told staff members to take good care of the dogs before vacating the Blue House on Sunday, Kim said.
Kim Ae Ra, who heads the Korea Alliance for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the group filed a complaint with South Korea's Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission over Park's dogs. The commission then asked the National Police Agency to look at it. Officials from the police agency couldn't immediately confirm how the case would be treated.
It's unclear whether Park's refusal to keep the dogs qualifies as abandonment under the country's animal protection law, which defines lost or abandoned animals as those "wandering without an owner in public places" or "left deserted in paper boxes or other containers."
Animal abandonment is punishable by a fine of up to 1 million won ($873) in South Korea. People who fail to report an ownership change in pets within 30 days can also face fines of up to 500,000 won ($436).
Prosecutors plan to question Park next week over suspicions that she colluded with a friend to extort money and favors from companies and allowed the friend to secretly interfere with state affairs.