KAPS had three shelters at this time. The third was in Boeun, which was a two hour drive from Daegu. Sunnan had fought with her sister and KAPS members about building Boeun. She had in her head a sanctuary for animals. She wanted it to be perfect, so she spent money getting it just how she wanted it. Her sister wanted to use cheaper building materials but to improve later. They ended out falling out over Sunnan’s decision.
A couple of years after its completion I arrived. The shelter was full really, with dogs downstairs and cats and small dogs upstairs. The dogs had inside kennels and outdoor play pens. Next to the shelter was an education room, offices, toilets and a house for the manager.
Boeun was set into a National Park so there were several walks from there out into the countryside. It didn’t matter if the dogs barked, nobody could hear them.
There were big dogs at Boeun, although the cages were big enough, I knew they could do with much more exercise. The manager was not a dog man, another gangster, he was a retired boxer who was running away from his life in Daegu after getting his family into debt. Sunnan gave him a job and his family a home.
The manager Mr Lee, his wife and son lived at Boeun. He cleaned out the dogs and cats each day and fed them, after this there wasn’t really time for walking, although I doubt any of them really understood the necessity or benefit of exercise for the dogs.
The Boeun shelter was home to up to 60 dogs and had the potential for even more cats. Many of the dogs were large breeds, huskies, malamutes, Korean Jindo dogs and great Pyrenees. We had the odd Labrador and mutt but Koreans are partial to a full breed dog.
The dogs knew Sunnan as the woman that brought them treats. My first foray into the Boeun kennels was quite scary. Sunnan would bring in bags of treats for the dogs and then let them jump all over her to get them. Nobody was teaching them any manners and they spend most of their time playing. Most of the dogs were young as most animals tend to be given up between 6 months and 2 years old, not dissimilar from the UK.
They had long lives ahead of them, but nobody came here and nobody knew they were here.
Not long after I arrived in Korea Jane and her husband moved to Boeun from South Africa. Jane had come on her husband’s visa and had no job of her own and so soon started looking for options. She came across the Boeun shelter and started volunteering not long after.
Jane spent four or five years working closely with Mr Lee and his family to try and improve things at Boeun. She walked dogs, she trained them…or attempted to. She built relationships with the local US Army bases and they came along to walk dogs and help out and eventually to adopt.
Not long after I started running dog walks out to Boeun from Daegu. I would rent a mini bus and everyone would pay a little towards it. We would go out for the day, take a packed lunch and change of clothes (you always got covered in mud) and we would get the dogs out for a walk.