South Korea’s former first lady in Pyongyang for condolences

December 26th, 2011 - 9:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Dec 26 (IANS) South Korea’s former first lady and the Hyundai Group’s chairwoman crossed into North Korea Monday to pay condolences over the death of Kim Jong-il.

Lee Hee-ho, the widow of the late former president Kim Dae-jung, and Hyun Jeong-eun, the widow of Hyundai’s late chairman Chung Mong-hun, leading a 13-member and five-member groups respectively left for Pyongyang, the Shanghai Daily reported citing Xinhua report.

Kim Jong-il, the 69-year-old supreme leader of the nuclear-armed North Korea, died Dec 17 while on a train journey.

Last week, the South Korean government expressed its sympathy to the people of the DPRK following the death of their leader. It, however, decided not to send an official delegation to the funeral.

North Korea, following South Korea’s decision, denounced the latter for not sending an official delegation.

“I think it’s the right thing to pay condolences as Kim Jong-il sent a condolence delegation to Seoul when my husband passed away in August 2009,” Lee said in a written message read by her aide before crossing the border.

“I hope that our trip to the DPRK will help improve relations between South Korea and the DPRK,” she said.

The South Korean government granted special permission to the two women for their visit because North Korea had sent separate condolence delegations to Seoul after their husbands’ deaths.

The two delegations, however, will not attend the funeral of Kim Jong-il, scheduled for Wednesday, and no government officials, politicians or other prominent figures were included in the groups.

They were scheduled to hold a luncheon meeting with some North Korean officials in Pyongyang late Monday before paying their respects to Kim, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

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