You may have already seen random outdoor cats wandering about the Jukejeon campus. Some are regularly seen near the dormitory or in the woods by the main gate. There are even a few regulars living by the restaurant ‘OngGojip’. Cat loving students take pictures of them and post them on Facebook or Instagram. They have become a hot topic at Dankook University (DKU), but nobody knows how they all got there. The Dankook Herald (DKH) conducted several interviews in the community to learn more about them.
- Kitty Idol of DKU, Merongi (also known as Ong Nyang-i)
Without any doubt, the most famous cats at DKU are the cats that live around ‘OngGojip’. You can easily find videos and pictures of these cats on Facebook pages and DKU’s Bamboo Forest. The photos are usually of the cats lazily laying on the street or videos of Dankookians (students of DKU) playing with the cats. But of all the cats roaming this area, Merongi is the most famous. He is a male cat that is looked after by the owner of the local restaurant OngGojip.
The owner of OngGojip has been taking care of street cats for a long time. She even built a shelter for them behind her restaurant. While the stray cats would never stick to the shelter, they did use it to protect their newborn kittens. Moreover, the restauranteur also provides food for them using her own money without any external aid. Among the cats she is taking care of, one is male (Merongi) and one is female (Yeomchi). They are currently living in a restaurant. Merongi has been living with her for about four to five years, which was the longest time out of all the cats she takes care of. He is the most famous cat of them all due to his friendly nature with people. He sometimes strolls over to the nearby PC cafes or convenience stores and to socialize and play with passers-by.
Yeomchi has also been living with the owner for a long time. She had six kittens, four of which were given away and the others left on their own. At the end of July, Yeomchi gave birth to another litter of six kittens. The restaurant owner stated that she was planning to give the kittens to anyone who wanted to take them, but because they are still so young, she is letting Yeomchi take care of them for now. She also said she was worried about Yeomchi having more litters, endangering her health, so she applied for a program to neuter her for free. Unfortunately, the wait list for the surgery is long so Yeomchi remains at risk.
There are a few more stay cats that sometimes visit OngGojib. Meoktae and Nureongi are frequent visitors. Nureongi often initiates a territorial war with Merongi where both of them get hurt. The restaurateur said, despite their fights, she always treats them equally.
- Granny Lee’s Stray Cats: Narong, Arong, Jjing-Ggung, and the others.
If you've been to the CU convenience store right outside Jibhyeonjae, having a beer and some snacks with your mates, you might have noticed a few felines hanging around. Some students occasionally feed them some sausages or crisps but never give them much more thought. However, that's not the case for loving granny, Lee.
|▲ Stray Cats around the entrance of DKU.|
Lee lives next door to the convenience store. She used to dislike cats and chased them away too. But things changed when she adopted her own kittens around two years ago. She saw the stray cats near her house shivering in the rain and snow, getting sick and injured, even rummaging through the trash cans of the convenience store and pitied them deeply. She then decided to take it into her own hands and take care of the cats like they were her own. As of now, she is single-handedly taking care of about 10 full-grown cats and 5-6 kittens. Some that have been around for a long time even have names, like “Arong”, “Narong” and “JjingGgung”.
Every morning, she would leave out some food and the cats come by at different times to have their meal. When she is back from work, she always makes sure to refill the food before anything else. Some cats were reluctant towards her in the beginning, but she then realized it was because they were injured. So she bought medication to treat their injuries. Despite the fact that her expenses add up to more than 100,000 every month, she is happily contributing out of love for the cats.
Apart from herself, some neighbors do feed the cats some snacks, but none are as consistent as her. She contacted some volunteer organizations that helped cover the costs of neutering, however, as those are NGO organizations, she had to pay for most of the surgeries herself. Lee is a hardworking, passionate and kind woman working several jobs to support her family and the cats. She has been doing this for the past two years and said she is happy to continue to do so. She stated that she realizes it is very difficult for DKU or Dankookians to take care of these stray cats, but she welcomes any help in purchasing necessary supplies, foods, and so forth.
- Hidden Protector for the Stray Cats of DKU, ‘DanNyang-Punch’.
Many Dankookians have seen the adorable cats lying on the rocks around the main entrance of DKU’s Jukejeon campus. They likely stop to take pictures and wonder, who takes care of them? Nobody knew. Even our interviewees from the cafes, stores, and restaurants nearby thought no one was taking care of them, except for the random pedestrians that sometimes gave the cats food. After a number of interviews, we learned that the hidden cat caring community at DKU, DanNyang Punch was the undisclosed guardian of these cats.
|▲ Dankook's celeb, Merongi's home in front of OngGojip|
Dan-Nyang Punch was established by a few people in March 2017 at DKU. They have been providing the cat food and other needed supplies, like shelters, and arranging adoption projects and so forth. They started by opening a Kakao Talk chat group of people who love cats and promoted it on Facebook in conjunction with the community for college students ‘Everytime’, soon after they joined Cat-festa through an arrangement with the Korea Cat Club.
When asked about the stray cats around DKU’s main gate, they said they preferred not to reveal detail information about them, in order to protect them, because many stray cats are afraid of people. Moreover, there is no need to reveal any more about them since most have been living there for a while without any Dankookians ever noticing.
They did, however, tell us how DanNyang Punch treats these stray cats. DanNyang Punch has focused on the safety of these DanCats. They stated that they are trying to preserve their independence and do not provide too much aid to the cats. Instead, they provide only essential and necessary supplies, such as building shelters for the winter, providing food and so forth. Furthermore, as far as long-term solutions for DanCats are concerned, they believe in neutering the cats in order to prevent future abandoned kittens.
- Last Statements from Each Interviewee.
Lee: I know it might be impossible to ask DKU or members of DKU to keep the cats, but it would be very nice if anyone could provide some cat food or other supplies.
Owner of OngGojip: There have been some people who show hostility towards our cats, threatening them or throwing cigarettes in their food bowls. Also, if you do care for our cats, please don’t provide them with human food, only cat food is best, for their own sake.
DanNyangPunch: We want Dankookians to know that DanCats are still quite afraid of humans, so please do not chase them or scare them. It’d be so much nicer if they’d like to provide them with ‘cat food’ and just watch them keeping a proper distance. This would be the best way of building a symbiotic relationship with the DanCats.
심형석, 김민, Mak Hao Yang firstname.lastname@example.org