Lawmaker’s request to visit Kaesong denied

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Lawmaker’s request to visit Kaesong denied

The South Korean government on Tuesday denied a request by a veteran opposition party politician to visit North Korea to meet a senior Pyongyang official. However, it did grant permission to 14 others, including the chairwoman of Hyundai Group.

According to the Ministry of Unification, the application for Rep. Park Jie-won, a member of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, to visit the North’s Kaesong Industrial Complex was denied. The ministry gave permission to seven representatives of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center, including former Culture Minister Kim Sung-jae, and seven others from Hyundai Asan, including its chairwoman, Hyun Jung-eun.

The group is scheduled to travel to Kaesong on Wednesday to meet with Kim Yang-gon, a North Korean Workers’ Party secretary in charge of South Korean affairs.

A Unification Ministry official said on Tuesday that the government did not want unnecessary political controversy by allowing a political official to repeatedly visit the North. Park, a key confidant of the late President Kim Dae-jung, acted as a special envoy to North Korea and helped arrange the historic 2000 inter-Korean summit.

Park visited Kaesong on Dec. 16 on behalf of Lee Hee-ho, the widow of the late president, to deliver flowers to the memorial marking the third anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il.

Hyundai Asan also sent the flowers that day.

Last week, Pyongyang said it would like to express its appreciation by inviting the South Koreans back to Kaesong.

The Unification Ministry official said the decision to exclude Park was made after consulting the Blue House.

Shortly after Rep. Park’s return from Kaesong on Dec. 16, he held a press conference during which he pressured the Park Geun-hye administration to resume talks with the North.

“The North showed a strong intention to resume dialogue, but trust can only be restored after the South takes proper measures,” he said.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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