By Kim Tong-hyung
Researchers led by cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk have delivered five clones of an active police search dog to the Jeju Provincial Police agency, which plans to use the animals for bomb detection and other missions.
The five puppies, named "Su," "Oreum," "Ieon," "Baekdu" and "Gangsan," are genetic copies of the famous bomb-sniffing canine, "Quinn," a five-year-old German shepherd who made headlines during the investigation of a high-profile child murder case that shocked the island in 2007.
Despite being trained for only three days to detect human scent, Quinn just needed 20 minutes to find the body of the victim at an orchard near the scene of the crime, bailing out more than 30,000 police officers who had searched in vain for over a month.
Considering that it normally takes about four to five months to train a cadaver dog, Quinn's heroics were seen as indication of a superior natural ability as a search dog, which led the Jeju police to request Hwang's Sooam Biotech Research Center to clone the animal last year.
"The five puppies were all born in January. They will be trained by Jeju police to be used for bomb detection and patrols, just like Quinn," said an official from Sooam.
Quinn is also in high demand for his regular job as a bomb-sniffing dog, being dispatched to major events, such as the 2005 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Busan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Korea summit on Jeju last year.
During his days as a Seoul National University (SNU) scientist, Hwang was one of the key researchers involved in the 2005 cloning of Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog.
Hwang was fired from SNU the following year after his landmark work on cloned human stem cells was exposed as fraudulent. However, Snuppy is one of Hwang's verified achievements.