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Burma, North Korea restore diplomatic ties

Apr 27,2007
North Korea and Burma, two of the world’s harshest dictatorships, agreed yesterday to restore diplomatic ties 24 years after Pyongyang was implicated in a deadly bomb attack which targeted South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan, who was visiting Rangoon.
North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Young-il, arrived in Rangoon, the former capital of Burma, also known as Myanmar, on Wednesday. Kim and Kyaw Thu, Burma’s deputy foreign minister, signed an agreement yesterday to reestablish relations between the two countries, Thu said.
The specifics of the agreement were not released.
The October 9, 1983 bombing was one of the most audacious acts of terror ever attributed to a nation-state. During an official visit, Chun planned to lay a wreath at a mausoleum dedicated to Aung San, the founder of modern Burma. Chun was delayed by traffic, but 21 people were killed, including three Korean cabinet ministers, when bombs in the roof of the mausoleum exploded. Burma quickly blamed the attack on North Korea.
Shortly after the bombing, Burmese authorities arrested three North Korean agents, one of whom killed himself. The other two were convicted and sentenced to death. Jin Mo was executed in 1985, but Kang Min-chol’s sentence was reduced to life in prison because he confessed.
Kang, 51, has been held at Insein prison near Rangoon. Irrawaddy, a magazine published by Burmese exiles, reported in its current issue that Kang did not wish to return to either Korea if he is released from prison. A former inmate told the magazine, “Kang said he did not want to go to the North because he would be treated as a traitor and he did not want to go to the South because he would be punished for the terror.”
North Korea has denied responsibility for the incident, claiming that it was a South Korean conspiracy to frame the North.


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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