December 27, 2011 09:24
Former President Kim Dae-jung's widow Lee Hee-ho and Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun met the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Monday afternoon. Lee and Hyun were there to pay their last respects to Kim's father Jong-il.
It was the first time prominent South Koreans have met the young leader.
Lee and Hyun "expressed their deep condolences and sympathy for Kim Jong-un... and Vice Chairman Kim expressed his deep gratitude," the North's official KCNA news agency reported.
According to the Unification Ministry, Lee and Hyun in the evening paid their respects at the body of Kim Jong-il, which lies in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang.
The two women and their entourages arrived north of the border on Monday morning, where they were welcomed by Ri Jong-hyok, the vice chairman of the Asia Pacific Peace Committee which deals with inter-Korean affairs.
They were taken to Paekhwawon, the North's state guesthouse for foreign VIPs that also accommodated presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun during bilateral summits in 2000 and 2007.
A South Korean government official said the North was evidently treating the two women courteously. The North also sent delegations when their respective husbands died in 2009 and 2003. Hyun is the widow of former Hyundai Group chairman Chung Mong-hun.
They returned to the guesthouse around 6:30 p.m. after meeting Kim Jong-un. They return on Tuesday afternoon, according to a ministry official.
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