Korea (be it North or South) has had a love/hate relationship with cats throughout the years. Because of this, it’s understandable why there aren’t a whole lot of breeds hailing from this area.
There are two primarily native Korean cat breeds. They are the Korean Bobtail Cat and also the Koshot, or otherwise known as the Korean Shorthair Cat.
The Koshot is the Korean equivalent of the American, British, or Philippine cat breed’s Puspin shorthair varieties. Cats have historically represented a negative force in Korean lore.
While trying to gather information about the Korean bobtail breed, two things became abundantly clear. Firstly, they certainly do exist. Secondly, there is no cut-and-dry information about this breed available online at all.
It’s possible that restrictions from the North Korean government could be stifling this information as it does with a host of other seemingly mundane issues or topics. However, the lack of breed information only leads me to assume this, as I have no point of reference aside from being from Korea.
This may be a variation of the Japanese Bobtail cat, but that’s merely conjectured at this point.
Koshot (Korean Shorthair)
Koshot is the Korean word to describe the country’s domesticated mixed breed or mongrel cats. The breeds involved to make the Koshot are unknown, be they a blend of imported breeds or native Korean cats throughout hundreds of years.
To date, there are no known genetic studies to attempt pinning down proper ancestry to these felines. Unlike mixed breeds in other countries who are monitored from one extent to the other, there is no oversight at all concerning the Koshot cat.
The Koshot cats are recognized in art, pottery, and folklore dating back to the 8th century. Though other imported breeds populate many areas of Korea, the Koshot still holds claim to many rural areas.
Historical Korean Attitude Toward Cats
In ancient Korean folklore, cats don’t enjoy a very positive light. To be honest, they were viewed as just the opposite.
Often associated with bad omens and bad luck, cats had little place in the homes of Koreans historically. To push beyond the bad luck reputation, cats were also viewed to be harboring or manifestations of bad spirits.
Current Korean Treatment of Cats
Fortunately for the local feline inhabitants, the overall outlook of cats has changed in Korea. What were once treated as harbingers of fear, bad luck, and evil, are now treated as the commonly well-mannered and affectionate house pets that are most common across the world.
Many associate the advent and influence of the internet to change the hearts of Koreans toward cats. Today, they are the second (though a distant second) most popular pet in Korea, the first being dogs.
The title of this article is Native Korean Cat Breeds, but that’s not to imply that there aren’t a host of non-native breeds lounging about homes across the Korean landscape. In fact, some of the most plentiful and popular breeds within the Koreas hail from all over the world.