The story of man’s best friend takes different shapes across cultures. For Korea, this dog is the Jindo (진돗개), and has had a place in the homes of Korean families for hundreds of years. Known for their loyalty and their gentle nature, the Jindo is one of the most beloved parts of Korean culture!
The Jindo breed originates from the Korean island of the same name. The Jindo is thought to have been the result of a cross between native dogs of Korea and dogs brought to Korea by the Mongols during the conquest of the 13th century. When the dogs belonging to the soldiers were left isolated there, the Jindo breed evolved. Over time, the Korean Jindo became known as a staple of Jindo Island, where the dogs lived among humans but were allowed to roam freely. Despite their freedom, the Jindo stayed by their owners side and often hunted alongside their owners and protected their homes.
Because of their loyal nature, they were considered as potential military, police, and search dogs. However, the dogs ended up not being suitable for these positions because they often remain loyal to their first owners, refusing to take orders from anyone else.
One of the most well-known stories of the Jindo’s loyalty is the story of a female Jindo named Baekgu (백구, meaning “white dog”).
Baekgu was raised by Park Bok-dan (박복단), an 83-year-old woman on Jindo Island, was sold to a new owner in the city of Daejeon which is located about 300 km (180 mi) away from the island. In 1993, 7-year-old Baekgu was sold to a new owner in the city of Daejeon which is located about 300 km (180 mi) away from the island. The dog escaped her new home and returned to her original owner, Park, after 7 months, haggard and exhausted. After her return, Baekgu remained with her original owner, who decided to keep the loyal dog, until the dog died of natural causes 7 years later. The story became a national sensation in South Korea and was made into cartoons, a TV documentary, and a children's storybook.
The Jindo breed has reached such a level of reverence in Korea that it has been declared a national treasure in the country. Jindo dogs even marched in the 1988 Seoul Olympics!
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