Jong-un sends a conciliatory wreath

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Jong-un sends a conciliatory wreath

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Kim Yang-gon, right, North Korea’s director of the United Front Department on South Korea policy, shakes hands with opposition lawmaker Park Jie-won yesterday at the Kaesong Industrial Complex to convey a wreath in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the death of former President Kim Dae-jung, today. [NEWS1]

KAESONG - Pyongyang sent a wreath to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of former President Kim Dae-jung, which falls today, to a South Korean delegation yesterday afternoon at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The wreath, sent by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was exchanged at a meeting room in the Central Special Zone Development Guidance General Bureau at the inter-Korean Kaesong park in North Korea, a conciliatory gesture by Pyongyang.

Kim Yang-gon, North Korea’s director of the United Front Department on South Korea policy and a secretary in Pyongyang’s Workers’ Party, attended the event and met with a five-member South Korean delegation that included Park Jie-won, a senior lawmaker with the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), the late president’s second son Kim Hong-eop, and Lim Dong-won, a former unification minister.

Park said to Kim Yang-gon, “I am meeting you after five years. You look the same,” to which Kim responded with a wide smile, “So do you all.”

Park was a chief of staff for Kim Dae-jung, the creator of the “Sunshine Policy” that advocated South Korea’s engagement with Pyongyang. He was a point man for the North-South Summit in Pyongyang in 2000.

In an hour-long meeting, Kim relayed complaints about joint South Korea-U.S. military drills and requested a North-South talks without any preconditions.

Before heading to Kaesong, the South Korean delegation stopped in the afternoon at the residence of the late president’s widow, Lee Hee-ho.

“I hope this becomes an opportunity for peace and cooperation between North and South Korea,” Lee told the delegation. “We wish to send a wreath on the anniversary of [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il’s death.”

North Korea announced through its Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee Thursday that a high-ranking official intended to deliver a wreath to a South Korean official at the Kaesong Industrial Complex today.

Despite the conciliatory gesture five years after the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Aug. 18, 2009, North Korea simultaneously ratcheted up its rhetoric against President Park Geun-hye yesterday following her Liberation Day address.

The North’s official mouthpiece Rodong Sinmun criticized Park’s 69th Liberation Day address offering joint ecological and cultural heritage preservation cooperation, as well as more frequent reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War.

It said that the Aug. 15 address “did not contain any intelligent solutions to resolving problems in the North and South’s relationship and is simply repeating previous positions.”

Pyongyang further lambasted the launching of the four-day annual South Korea U.S. joint military drills, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which kicks off today, and through its media said it will contribute “to a sea of blood.”

It was not revealed if North Korea responded yesterday to the South’s proposal last week to hold high-level inter-Korean talks to discuss September reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

BY SARAH KIM, KANG JIN-KYU [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]






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