Moon Jae-in was sworn in Wednesday, and issued a statement through a representative that he planned to follow through on a promise he made while meeting with animal rights groups during the campaign.
It was then that he met Tory, a small, four-year-old mutt.
Tory was rescued from a dog meat farm two years ago and has lived since then in a shelter operated by Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE).
During the meeting, Moon was asked to be Tory’s new owner, and he promised then to take the dog with him to the presidential residence, if elected, the Korea Herald reported.
Moon promised during the campaign to make Korea a better place for humans and animals and, while he stopped short of favoring an immediate ban on the sale of dog meat, he did say it should be phased out over time.
Most are raised on dog raised on farms where they spend their lives chained or caged.
They are sold to individuals and restaurants, often at outdoor markets where they are butchered on site.
Some steps have been taken to restrict the trade, or at least keep it out of sight, as the 2018 Winter Olympics — to be held in PyeongChang — near.
Moon’s election pledges on animal welfare included building more playgrounds for pets and feeding facilities for stray cats.
Some are hopeful that his adoption of Tory might mean he will do more for animal welfare, and more to bring an end to the dog meat trade.
If he has not made up his mind to do that, or at least try, maybe Tory will persuade him. Living and bonding with a dog who was destined to be meat, I’ve found — even if you already find the practice barbaric — is filled with moments that reinforce just how wrong it is.
Tory is a small mixed breed, and while he doesn’t appear too meaty, any shape, size and kind of dog can end up with dog meat traders, and by a multitude of means — including being stolen or swept off the street as strays.
CARE says Tory has been passed over for adoption because of his dark coloring.
Koreans, only a small minority of whom eat dog, are often hesitant to adopt dog farm dogs, and black dogs.
The president says the adoption shows “that both humans and animals should be free from prejudice and discrimination,” Yonhap reported.
“My family and I anticipate the day to welcome Tory as a new family member and will make sure he adjusts well to the new environment,” Moon said in a statement last week.
The president has two other pets – a dog named Maru, and a former shelter cat named Jjing-jjing.
Moon’s predecessor Park Geun-hye had nine dogs — all Jindos. When she left officer earlier this year after an historic impeachment ruling, she left all nine behind.
The presidential palace has since announced that new homes have been found for all nine.
Tory, it is believed, will be the first farm dog and the first shelter dog, to take up residence in the palace.
(Photos: At top, Moon holds Tory after signing adoption agreement, provided by the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae; lower photos courtesy of CARE)