N.Korea in Condolence Farce

      September 28, 2011 13:20

      The North Korean regime gave another example of erratic behavior this week when it first ordered the bereaved family of a senior South Korean figure to present themselves for condolences and then withdrew into a sulk when the eccentricity of such behavior was pointed out.

      Park Yong-gil /Yonhap

      North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee on Monday wrote to the South Korean government saying its chairman Kim Yang-gon wished to express his condolences to the family of Park Yong-gil, the widow of the prominent democracy activist Rev. Moon Ik-hwan, who has died aged 93. For that purpose "the bereaved family and the officials involved in Park's funeral" were to present themselves at the Janamsan Hotel in the North Korean border city of Kaesong on Tuesday.

      Moon made an unauthorized visit to North Korea in 1989, where he met then-leader Kim Il-sung. He later served two years in jail for making the visit and died in 1994. Park, who worked for reconciliation with North Korea alongside her husband, died on Sunday and was buried next to him in Moran Park, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday morning. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had already expressed his condolences in a rare message on Monday.

      The organizing committee for the funeral asked the Unification Ministry on Monday afternoon whether going to Kaesong was an option, but the ministry declined to authorize the visit, saying nowhere in the world are people summoned by those who wish to express their condolences.  

      North Korea then demanded that at least those members of the organizing committee who are not related to Park should come to Kaesong. The Unification Ministry sent a message back through the organizing committee, saying if North Korean officials wished to make a visit of condolence to Seoul, it would "provide a cordial reception."

      But according to the Unification Ministry, North Korea then wrote to the committee saying if its members did not come to Kaesong, it would conclude that the South Korean government prohibited the visit. "If we do not hear from you by 10 p.m. [on Monday], we will cancel all the arrangements," it added.

      Experts said North Korea was simply playing mind games with the South.

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