Both the Pungsan hunting dogs, named Gomi and Songkang, were sent by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “peace gifts” to the South following their 2018 summit, where the hermit kingdom’s leader agreed to shutter a missile-testing site.
Since their arrival in the South, Mr Moon has raised the white hunting dogs and taken them to his personal residence after his term ended in May.
The dogs are legally categorised as state property belonging to the presidential archives, but Mr Moon insisted on raising them even after leaving the presidential office, a plea his successor Yoon Suk-yeol accepted.
In 2021, Gomi gave birth to seven puppies, one of which Mr Moon and his wife raised while reportedly rehoming the remaining six with other families.
Before Mr Moon left office, an agreement was signed between a presidential secretary and the then-head of the presidential archives to cover expenses for raising the three dogs.
The interior ministry then drew up a draft confirming it would provide a monthly subsidy of nearly £1,500 to the former president for raising the dogs.
That effort, however, fell apart due to “unexplained opposition” from the administration of the incumbent president.
“Ex-president Moon has been raising the Pungsan dogs for a long time. He is very disappointed to return the dogs, especially at this time when Gomi went through surgery,” his office said on Facebook.
“The presidential office seems to be negative toward entrusting the management of the Pungsan dogs to former president Moon.
“If that’s the case, we can be cool about it, as such an entrustment is based on the goodwill of both sides... though ending it is regretful given they are companion animals he grew attached to.”
President Yoon’s office denied foiling the move, saying the agencies are still discussing the issue.
Kim Dae-jung, the eighth South Korean president, also received a pair of Pungsan pups after his landmark summit in Pyongyang with former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2000.
Both the dogs were kept at the Seoul Grand Park and later died in 2013 of natural causes after giving birth to 21 puppies.