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Q&A: Yeo Ha-yeon, editor-in-chief at The Traveler magazine

"They’re, indeed, ‘companions’ and ‘family’ for me."

Tell us about your companion animal.

It was 2008, and I was recently broken up. A friend of mine recommended this one online forum on Naver Café, and I came to find an abandoned cat that needed a home. So yes, it was out of my loneliness at first, first now my Alex the Turkish Angora has become a family whom I can’t live without. In 2014, I adopted another cat. His name is Kuro.

What do the animals mean to you?

They’re, indeed, ‘companions’ and ‘family’ for me. My life changed completely, after I found Alex and Kuro – unlike humans, animals give unconditional love, or rather, ‘consistent’ love. Although cats are more independent than dogs, you will find how they do seek affection from humans as time goes by. Seeing such changes and getting closer with them is the greatest happiness in sharing life with animals. Kuro used to be edgy and sensitive at first, but now he lies down at the door to greet me when I come home from work, like a dog. And Alex always tries to be in my arms like a baby.

How do you spend time with animals?

Cats have distinct preferences in terms of space. They get attached, and hate to leave a place they’re familiar with, a lot more than humans do, even. So, naturally, I spend time with them at home. They’ve got an extremely high level of curiosity, and love to play hide-and-seek – if there’s a new object in the house, they’d sleep or stay inside it. When they were younger, they used to like cat toys the most, but as they grew up they responded more to mundane objects like boxes, plastic bags, string and basically, anything that’s new to them. And they’re always around me, no matter what I’m doing.

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What do you do when the animals are in an emergency?

I go to 24-hour animal hospitals. In case of an accident, emergency and illness that can’t be treated at a small veterinarian’s office, it is important to have a list of nearby hospitals that can handle different symptoms.

Message to those who are looking to have a companion animal?

I see a lot of people who decide to adopt an animal out of loneliness then give up on them later in life. It’s really cruel and unethical – I hope no one adopts an animal without truly committing him/herself., without enough self-reflection Also, I hope more people would adopt animals from a shelter, rather than buying one at a pet shop – many cats and dogs are waiting for a new home and family.

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