Dogs have been with us since prehistoric times. As a result, a wide range of dogs have come into existence in a wide range of places. Some of them have managed to become prominent on the international stage; others, not so much. The Pungsan is an excellent example of the latter. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Pungsan.
1. Not Recognized by Most Kennel Clubs
The Pungsan isn’t recognized by most kennel clubs out there. Something that speaks volumes about the breed’s lack of presence on the international stage.
2. Korean Breed
Moving on, the Pungsan is one of a number of breeds that came into existence on the Korean peninsula. Another example would be the Donggyeongi, which is a bob-tailed dog protected by South Korean law because it is in serious risk of becoming extinct. Another example would be the Korean Jindo, which is named for Jindo Island.
3. North Korean Breed
Having said that, the Pungsan is less well-known than the other Korean breeds. In huge part, this is because it is a North Korean breed rather than a South Korean breed. After all, North Korea is one of the most closed-off countries that can be found on the entire planet, which means that North Koreans know less about the outside world while the outside world knows less about North Korea. Still, the Pungsan seems to receive a fair amount of respect from North Koreans.
4. There Are Reported Restrictions on the Export of the Pungsan
North Korea has a reputation for being very concerned about “purity.” As a result, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that there are reported restrictions on the export of the Pungsan to other countries. However, members of the breed have shown up in other countries, with the two most common examples being China and South Korea. This makes sense because China is North Korea’s neighbor with the less well-guarded border. Meanwhile, North Korea and South Korea were once the same country, meaning that there is a shared heritage between the two.
5. Used as Diplomatic Gifts
One of the Pungsan’s biggest claims to fame is the fact that the breed was used for diplomatic purposes in 2000. For those who are curious, there was an inter-Korea summit between the two leaders of the two countries at the time, meaning Kim Jong-il of North Korea and Kim Dae-jung of South Korea. The former gave the latter a pair of Pungsan dogs, while the latter gave the former a pair of Korean Jindo dogs. For a time, the two Pungsan dogs resided in the Blue House before being moved to the Seoul Zoo. There, both of them lived to the age of 13, having had a total of 15 puppies.
6. Associated with a Place Now Called Kimhyonggwon County
It isn’t uncommon for breeds to be named after geographic locations. The Pungsan is an excellent example because it was named after a place called Pungsan. However, said place is now called Kimhyonggwon, which refers to the North Korean leader Kim Il-sung’s uncle Kim Hyong-gwon. North Korean propaganda goes to great lengths to depict members of the Kim family as having played important roles in the country’s history. As such, Kim Hyong-gwon’s status as a revolutionary who died in the struggle against the Japanese colonization of Korea means that he is one of the most often-used figures for said purpose.
7. Comes from the Kaema Plateau
A breed’s geographical roots tend not to match up one-for-one with human-drawn borders. As such, it is more useful to say that the Pungsan came from the Kaema Plateau than from Kimhyonggwon County. Highlands aren’t particularly uncommon in North Korea. After all, its mountainous nature has played a huge role in its history. On the one hand, North Korea’s mineral resources meant that it was the more developed of the two Koreas at the time of independence; on the other hand, North Korea was always less suitable for food production, which was made worse by a policy of pursuing maximum production in the short run at the expense of sustainability in the long run. Something that contributed to the country’s famines in recent decades.
8. Unclear Heritage
It isn’t clear how the Pungsan came into existence. However, people have come up with various theories on the topic. For example, there are those who think that they are descended from West Siberian Laikas, which are a kind of spitz used for hunting purposes. In contrast, there are those who think that the Pungsan came into existence because of people crossbreeding mastiffs with herding dogs. On top of this, there are even people who believe that the breed might have some wolf in them.
Regardless, the Pungsan is used for hunting. Moreover, it is important to note that the Pungsan is meant to go after some very big, very powerful targets, with examples including but not limited to bears, tigers, and warthogs. Every single one of these animals is a formidable fighter in its own right. Even the warthog – though it isn’t the most aggressive animal that can be found out there – possesses a terrible set of tusks with which it can do a tremendous amount of damage within a matter of moments. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Pungsan possesses plenty of courage, thus making these dogs ready to fight even when there is a very real risk of danger to them.
10. Can Get Along with Other Dogs
The Pungsan doesn’t do so well in multi-animal households. Apparently, they aren’t fond of the presence of smaller animals such as cats and rabbits. However, the Pungsan is capable of getting along with other dogs provided that they have been properly socialized from an early age. As for humans, well, the breed is said to get along quite well with us. Essentially, these dogs are affectionate with their family members but will be much more standoffish when it comes to strangers.