London: A mongrel has reportedly become the
first dog to defect from reclusive North Korea to the South,
after the canine was brought aboard a small boat by its
fleeing owner and 20 other refugees.
South Korean officials are now scratching their heads
about what to do with the canine refugee.
"The dog was travelling with one of the refugees, who
insisted on bringing it with him. He obviously cared about it
enough not to leave it behind but we don`t know how we are
going to deal with a dog.
"Seeing it on the boat was a great surprise," the `Daily
Mail` quoted as saying an immigration official in Seoul.
It is understood the dog is being kept in quarantine in
an animal pound in Seoul.
If its owner is granted asylum to remain in South Korea,
officials said there was a possibility his dog would be able
to stay too, providing it passed all the health checks. Even
then, it would face many months in quarantine.
The dog and the refugees were found on board a six-ton
boat off a South Korean island near the disputed Yellow Sea
border, according to the `Yonhap` news agency.
The asylum seekers are now being interrogated at a safe
house in the western port of Incheon, said the agency.
The owner of the mongrel comes from Sonchon, the
north-west coast of North Korea. "It`s the first time that any
refugees have brought pets like dogs with them," it said.
Since the end of the 1950-53 war more than 20,000
North Koreans have fled to the South, most of them escaping
into China. Only around 450 of the total have arrived by sea,
although the latest case is the fourth this year.