Defector Hwang laid to rest with honors, tears
Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking North Korean defector and inventor of Juche, or self-reliance ideology, was laid to rest with honors at the National Cemetery in Daejeon yesterday after a funeral at the Asan Medical Center in Pungnap-dong, Seoul.
Around 300 people attended the funeral service, which began at 10 a.m., including Kim Young-sam, former president and honorary chairman of the funeral committee; Lee Hoi-chang, head of the Liberty Forward Party; and Unification Minister Hyun In-taek.
Park Kwan-yong, former National Assembly speaker and co-chairman of the funeral committee, said in a funeral message, “We mourn your leaving us at the time we witnessed the third-generation succession in North Korea. History will remember your devotion to democratize North Korea and your humanistic philosophy.”
Farewell addresses were delivered by Lee Hoi-chang; defector Cho Myung-chul, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy and a former Kim Il Sung University professor; and Suzanne Scholte, president of the Defense Forum Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that sponsors educational programs on foreign affairs, defense, national security and human rights issues.
“Your presence on its own was a symbol of our hope and determination to reunify the two Koreas,” said Lee.
Cho, a former student of Hwang, burst into tears and said, “He threw away all his comfort and privileges for the sake of justice.”
At the funeral, Scholte said, “Freedom was the value he pursued. However, he had to bear a sense of guilt for the rest of his life because of the family, colleagues and students he left in the North.”
Hwang, who was found dead at his residence in Seoul last Sunday at the age of 87, defected to South Korea in 1997.
The Korean government posthumously conferred the Grand Order of Mugunghwa, the highest civilian award given by the government, to Hwang Tuesday.
On the same day, North Korea said on an official Web site that Hwang’s death was the “curse of heaven.”
By Shim Sae-rom, Yoo Sun-young [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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