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Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

I just caught this interesting Reuters article on Sapsarees, “one of three dog breeds native to Korea, along with the Jindo and Poongsan.”

Sapsarees, shaggy-haired dogs long valued for their loyalty, were killed in large numbers by the Japanese military, which used their fur to make winter coats for its soldiers serving in the extreme cold of Manchuria, as documented in government records during the period of Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945).

When South Korea emerged from the turmoil of two wars and decades of poverty, the medium-sized Sapsaree, whose name means “the dogs that ward off evil spirits or misfortune” and which resembles a sheepdog, had all but disappeared.

By the mid-1980s, only eight remained, says Ha Ji-Hong, a U.S.-educated geneticist.

But now the breed has made a remarkable comeback, thanks largely to Ha, a professor at South Korea’s Kyungpook National University, who combined traditional breeding with advances in modern DNA technology.

Read the full article here.

I haven’t given much thought to native Korean breeds aside from the Jindo, which I still don’t know very much about, having only met a handful in my time. The designation of purebred dogs as [Asian] National Treasures is a phenomenon on which I have much to say… some other time.

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