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North Korea’s Kim gives pair of dogs to Putin

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By Hyunsu Yim

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a pair of Pungsan dogs, a local breed, state media KCNA reported on Thursday.

Kim and Putin were seen looking at the dogs, who were tied to a rose-covered fence, during a segment aired on the state-controlled Korean Central Television on Thursday.

The two bonded over animals as Kim fed carrots to a horse while Putin patted it on its head. They also took turns driving each other around in a Russian-built Aurus limousine on Wednesday.

Kim, a horseman, was famously pictured riding a white stallion in Mount Paektu during snowfall in photos released by state media in 2019, flooding the internet with memes.

He was seen riding a white horse again in a propaganda video in 2022.

The horses Kim rode are symbolic for North Korea, which named its economic effort to recover from the 1950-53 Korean War after the mythical winged horse Chollima. The country’s latest rocket booster is also named Chollima-1.

Putin, who prizes his sporty image, has also been pictured shirtless several times in photos released by Russian state media, including one set in which he rode a brown horse while wearing wrap-around sunglasses, a gold chain and army trousers.

Pungsans are a breed of hunting dogs native to a region in northern North Korea.

Former South Korean president Moon Jae-in also received a pair of white Pungsans – named “Gomi” and “Songgang” – from Kim in 2018 during a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations.

In 2022, a freight train carrying 30 grey thoroughbred horses heading to North Korea departed Russia’s far east through the Khasan-Tumangan crossing, according to Russia’s veterinary service, in what appeared to be the first reported train shipment between the two countries post-pandemic.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim and Hyun Young Yi. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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