Cloned pigs have been born for the first time in South Korea, with scientists using somatic cells, a researcher said Wednesday.

Gyeongsang National University Professor Kim Jin-Hee said three female piglets were born Sunday night as part of a cloning project by researchers at his university.

But one died immediately and the two survivors have been named ‘Cadori’ one and two, Kim said.

He said the project seeks to produce new high value medicines through genetically-altered cloned pigs.

South Korean scientists, who cloned a cow in February 1999, have been debating government plans, announced on Monday, to tighten rules on cloning human embryos.

The Health and Welfare Ministry called for a strict ban on creating embryos for experiments.

The ministry, however, promised to allow limited research on frozen embryos only when needed for treating infertile patients.

It also plans to ban artificial hybrid fertilization between humans and animals.

South Korean scientists insist cloning technology would help people suffering from infertility.