In South Korea, dogs are considered more as food than as pets, which is why a 61-year-old woman named Jung Myoung Sook is considered a rare oddity.
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Jung, who loves her canine friends, is the champion for dogs in the country, with puppies barking and wagging their tails as they follow her around through a hillside that shelters more than 200 of her furry friends.
The number of pets she amassed over the years has been staggering. Jung often picked up stray dogs roaming the streets, while others she bought to keep from being sold to dog meat farms or restaurants.
Still, people wondered how a poor woman like herself, who cleans a store and collects recyclable boxes for a living, could feed and look after her pets. In a recent visit with The Associated Press, it seems that the dogs are healthy and well-fed, although their condition, as stated, cannot be independently confirmed.
To feed her pets, Jung says she spends around $1,600 a month on food and medicine; however, she also relies on donations of soybean milk, pork, dog food, and canned meat. Some strangers also donate and give her money for her pets. A restaurant owner has also been helping her by giving her leftover pork for the last four years. Speaking about Jung, the restaurant owner shared, “She lives only for her dogs without doing much for herself.”
Asan authorities say that although they know about Jung’s current dog shelter, they have no legal responsibility to inspect it. Still, people like Jung have been viewed a hero for canines. In South Korea, pets that have been sent to public shelters have dwindled in number over the past few years, from 100,000 in 2010 to about 81,000 in 2014.
While Jung’s dogs seem to be in a good condition, there are dozens of other South Koreans who are believed to be sheltering large numbers of dogs as well, although it has been suspected the animals live in unsanitary conditions that spread diseases easily.
At 61 and considered poor, Jung said that people wonder why she smiles all the time. She shared, “My babies aren’t hungry. They can play and live freely here. Some people talk about me, saying, ‘Why is that beggar-like middle-aged woman smiling all the time,’ but I just focus on feeding my babies. I’m happy and healthy.”