North Korea uses Kim Jong-il funeral to send olive branch and warning to South
North Korea welcomed plans for two private 'condolence delegations' from South Korea to Kim Jong-il's funeral, but condemned the South's refusal to send official delegation and warned darkly of consequences.
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North Korea promised a warm welcome to “condolence delegations” from South Korea, offering assurances that “the convenience and safety of South Korean condolence delegations will be fully guaranteed.”Skip to next paragraph
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Two prominent widows will lead delegations
South Korea has agreed to permit two widows whose husbands had unique, tragically interwoven records in pursuing rapprochement between South and North to lead their own “condolence delegations.”
First is Lee Hee-ho, widow of Kim Dae-jung, the president who articulated a “Sunshine policy” of reconciliation, flew to Pyongyang for the first inter-Korean summit with Kim Jong-il in June 2000, and won the Nobel Peace Prize six months later.
Second is Hyun Jeong-eun, widow of Chung Mong-hun, who was chairman of Hyundai Asan, the Hyundai group company responsible for realizing the dream of his father, Chung Ju-yung, to open up North Korea for business and tourism. Her husband committed suicide in August 2003 two months after his indictment for his role in channeling at least $500 million in bribes from South to North Korea to persuade Kim Jong-il to agree to the summit.
Aside from the issue over condolences from South Korea, questions swirl about the roles of Kim Jong-il’s other offspring. His oldest son, Kim Jong-nam, who is 40, has been living it up in Macao for years. Once a likely successor, Kim Jong-nam lost out after he was nabbed by Japanese immigration officials in 2001 trying to get through Tokyo's Narita airport on a fake Dominican passport in order to take his son to Disneyland..
Nor is it clear if the middle of the three brothers, Kim Jong-chol, will be visible at the funeral. Jong-chol, now 30, has been living quietly in Pyongyang, not viewed as real competition since his father passed him over as effete, but will probably remain unseen on television even if he’s somewhere close by.
Kim Jong-un nominally heads the funeral committee, but it’s unlikely he had much to do with the selection of its 230 or so members. All one knows is that Jang Song-thaek, a vice chairman of the national defense commission that Kim Jong-il served as chairman, seems to be the regent.