Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un Trade Dogs, Limousine, and More as Gifts

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, ri
Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un exchanged lavish gifts at a ceremony on Wednesday in Pyongyang, which the Russian leader visited for the first time in 24 years on Tuesday.

Putin arrived in the North Korean capital on Tuesday for a quick two-day official visit that was part of a broader international tour. Putin then traveled to communist Vietnam on Thursday.

During Putin’s stay in North Korea, he and Kim boosted their countries’ relationship to that of a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and signed a mutual defense treaty that calls for both countries to assist each other in the event that either is militarily attacked. They then exchanged gifts, as is traditional in high-level diplomatic engagements.

The Russian state news agency Tass reported on Thursday that Kim gave Putin, a well-known dog-lover, two Pungsan hunting dogs. The Pungsan is a rare breed of Korean canine considered the national dog of North Korea. Putin received the dogs at the Kumsusan Guesthouse in Pyongyang.

“Dogs, when fighting an opponent, usually gnaw into the other’s neck. But this dog pounces on him in one fell swoop and gnaws into his throat. Thus, the Pungsan mirrors the values of the Korean nation,” Cho Il-kyung, head of North Korea’s National Heritage Preservation Agency, reportedly said, “which hates injustice, cherishes moral duty and is ruthless toward those who dare provoke it.”

Cho — who described the North Korean breed as having a torso that is “small compared to other dogs in the West” but said it is “very intelligent, agile and persistent” — claimed that the Pungsan is considered a “possible ancestor of the famous Japanese Akita and Shiba Inu breeds.”

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin graciously accepted the two dogs but has yet to choose names for them. In addition to the two dogs, Putin received “several pieces of art depicting his likeness” as gifts from the North Korean dictator.

“There were several versions of images, all of them are rather skillful, including busts,” Russian Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov said, describing the Putin-centric pieces of art as “very good presents.”

Putin, for his part, gifted Kim a Russian-made Aurus luxury vehicle, an admiral’s dagger, and a tea set.

Russian President Vladimir Putin drives a car with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un at a garden of the Kumsusan Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 19, 2024. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Ushakov pointed out that the Aurus vehicle gifted to Kim on Wednesday was the second of its kind that the North Korean dictator has received, having been gifted one similar vehicle in September during Kim’s visit to the Russian Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch site. The gifting of the first Aurus vehicle to Kim was reportedly made known in February.

Kim reportedly used the vehicle to take Putin for a ride after both dictators concluded their round of talks. According to Tass, Kim rode Putin around the vicinity of the Kumsusan residence. Putin then swapped seats with Kim and took the North Korean dictator for a ride in the gifted luxury vehicle and “traveled several kilometers at a rather high speed” before they took a “walk together.”

The act of gifting a vehicle to Kim reportedly constitutes a violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions that ban the supply, sale, and transfer of luxury items to North Korea. The sanctions were the result of North Korea refusing to engage in its illegal nuclear weapons development.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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