SEOUL, May 19 (Korea Bizwire) – On May 18, a retirement ceremony was held for detection dogs named ‘Worth’ (male) and ‘Treasure’ (female) at Gyeongbokgung, a Joseon-era palace that is now a popular tourist attraction in Seoul.
The dogs had been playing a central role in eliminating white ants, known as the ‘grim reapers of wooden cultural heritage’ for eating away wooden structures, since 2007 and 2010 respectively.
The ceremony included the presentation of medals and honorable cultural heritage protector commission letters, as well as a demonstration of the new detection dogs carrying out their detection work.
After retirement, the English Springer Spaniels are set to live the rest of their lives with a volunteer family, having spent 70 percent of their lives so far in this service. Three new detection dogs will take over their roles.
On average, ‘Worth’ and ‘Treasure’ visited wooden cultural heritage sites twice a week for three days each time, and carried out the duty of detecting white ants. Since 2011, they participated in a total of 321 overall inspections.
The inspection process started with the detection dogs first confirming traces of white ants, followed by officials from Cultural Heritage Administration using internal cameras and detection equipment to inspect the situation further, and then Cultural Heritage Administration officials taking appropriate countermeasures according to inspection results.
White ant detection dogs were first introduced in 2007 when Samsung’s Cultural Heritage Protection division and the Cultural Heritage Administration signed an agreement to find a solution to the white ant problem. White ants dislike sunlight and move from pillar to pillar beneath the ground, wreaking havoc on wooden structures. They are also difficult to spot at any time other than spring.
Reflecting the importance of protecting wooden cultural heritages from white ants, three new white ant detection dogs are taking over the roles and will be part of triannual comprehensive inspections of wooden cultural heritages.
“With detection dogs, the process of finding the white ants is much quicker. This makes them very effective at preventing damage,” said Young Gi Jang, an official member of the Cultural Heritage Administration. “White ant detection dogs are part of a professional society development activity. Thanks to ‘Worth’ and ‘Treasure’, our capacity of inspecting the sites and preserving wooden cultural heritage increased greatly,” he added.
Jiyoung Esther Kim (email@example.com)