South Korea lifts temporary travel ban to NorthJanuary 4th, 2012 - 3:16 am ICT by BNO News
SEOUL (BNO NEWS) — The government of South Korea has decided to lift a temporary ban on civilian visits to North Korea, a government official in Seoul confirmed on Tuesday.
Seoul banned all visits to North Korea on December 19 after the communist state announced the death of its leader Kim Jong-il. The only exception to the ban, which triggered an angry response from North Korea, were visits to an inter-Korean industrial park in the border town of Kaesong.
“As the mourning period for Chairman Kim (Jong-il) has ended, we will act accordingly when civilians apply for a visit to North Korea,” an official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, told the Yonhap news agency.
Kim Jong-il’s funeral took place last Wednesday and was followed by a huge memorial service in Pyongyang on Thursday to wrap up a 13-day mourning period for the late leader. According to the North Korean government, Kim Jong-il died on December 17 after suffering an ‘advanced, acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a heart shock,’ while on a train for a ‘field guidance tour’.
South Koreans are required by law to receive state approval before traveling to the North. The temporary ban, among other measures, were harshly condemned by the North Korean military as ‘hideous crimes’ and warned it may launch a retaliatory strike to ’smash the stronghold of the puppet forces.’
“Expressing condolences and sending condolatory messages have been good manners and customs and ethical tradition peculiar to the Korean nation from the ancient times,” the North Korean Defense Commission said in a statement on Friday, referring to groups of South Koreans who were denied access to North Korea to convey their condolences. “It is for this reason that we brand the evil act of the Lee group (the South Korean government, led by President Lee Myung-bak) as treason bereft of elementary human reason and morality.”
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which remains in a technical state of war, have been at critical since the 2010 sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 people. The incident left 46 people killed and a South Korean-led international investigation blamed a North Korean torpedo which was allegedly fired from a midget submarine, although the North insists it was not responsible.
Months after the sinking of the ship, North Korean forces bombarded the disputed Yeonpyeong Island. The artillery engagement from the North, which claims it acted in ’self-defense’, left two South Korean civilians killed while the South’s return fire killed at least five people in North Korea.
The 1950-1953 Korean War, which left millions of people killed, ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.
- South Korea's former first lady in Pyongyang for condolences - Dec 26, 2011
- North Korean succession is stable: South Korea, US - Dec 30, 2011
- Seoul hopes tensions between Koreas will ease - Jan 02, 2012
- South says North Korea ready to carry out nuclear test - Apr 24, 2012
- Don't expect us to change, North Korea tells world - Dec 30, 2011
- No hostility, South Korea tells North - Dec 22, 2011
- North Korea marks army's 80th anniversary - Apr 25, 2012
- South Korea on high alert after Kim's death - Dec 19, 2011
- Kim's death: US in touch with South Korea - Dec 19, 2011
- Kim Jong-un declared North Korea's supreme military commander - Dec 31, 2011
- Kim Jong-un gets married: North Korean TV - Jul 25, 2012
- Pyongyang protests US-South Korea military drill - Mar 04, 2012
- South Koreans send anti-regime leaflets to North in balloons - Dec 22, 2011
- Kim Jong-un signs order of battle - Aug 27, 2012
- Analysts doubtful about North Korea's "unconditional and early talks" proposal - Jan 09, 2011
Tags: acute myocardial infarction, chairman kim, ethical tradition, expressing condolences, field guidance, good manners and customs, government of south korea, hideous crimes, kim jong il, korean defense, korean nation, korean peninsula, korean relations, lee group, myocardial infarction, reason and morality, south korean government, south koreans, unification ministry, yonhap news agency