December 28, 2011 09:14
Former President Kim Dae-jung's widow Lee Hee-ho and Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun were tight-lipped on return to Seoul on Tuesday after paying their respects to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. On Monday they met the new leader Kim Jong-un, who looked "just like in the pictures," according to Hyun.
They would not otherwise be drawn. In a press release read by Yoon Chul-koo, the secretary general of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation on Tuesday afternoon, Lee said, "It was purely a condolence visit."
Footage on North Korean state TV showed Kim in a dark Mao suit, weeping as he stood at his father's body at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace on Monday.
A two-minute segment showed Lee and Hyun paying their respects to Kim senior. The official Rodong Sinmun daily carried a report of their visit on the front page.
A member of the South Korean delegation said Kim Jong-un "seemed composed" when he met Lee and Hyun. His eyes did not look red from weeping and he received mourners calmly. He looked "rather young for his age," he added. But while the successor looks distinctly chubby on TV, in real life he looks "well built," the delegation member added.
The delegation also met Kim Yong-nam, the titular head of state and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yang-gon, the director of the United Front Department, and Won Tong-yon, a deputy director of the department. They reportedly called Kim Jong-un "comrade general."
Kim Yong-nam urged South Korea to implement the June 15 joint declaration signed at the first inter-Korean summit in 2000 and the Oct. 4 joint declaration of 2007, the first quasi-official North Korean message to the South since Kim senior's death.
Kim's younger sister Yo-jong (24) was also standing nearby when Lee and Hyun met her brother. State TV showed her in black traditional Korean costume behind her brother at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace on Dec. 21. She also wore the black hanbok on Monday and looked somewhat haggard, the delegation member said.
Meeting reporters separately at the Dorasan immigration office, Lee and Hyun said they only met Kim Jong-un at the mausoleum.
Yoon of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation said Kim "thanked Lee for coming all this way." The delegation waited 40 to 50 minutes before paying their respects at the body and met Kim Jong-un for about 10 minutes, Yoon added.
Hyun arrived about 30 minutes earlier than Lee. The delegation merely expressed their condolences but there was no separate discussion, she said.
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