First ladies visit children’s hospital, college

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

First ladies visit children’s hospital, college


North Korean first lady Ri Sol-ju, right, welcomes South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook, left, at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on Tuesday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in embraces North Korean leader Kim Jong-un behind them. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

The wives of the two Korean leaders met Tuesday on the sidelines of the third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang and visited a children’s hospital and a music college together.

The meeting between South Korea’s first lady Kim Jung-sook and North Korea’s first lady Ri Sol-ju marked the first time that the wives of the leaders of the two Koreas have met in the North.

Former South Korean presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun were accompanied by their wives when they visited North Korea in 2000 and 2007, respectively, but the wife of then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il did not show up to any official events.

Ri and Kim Jung-sook first met face-to-face on April 27 during this year’s first inter-Korean summit on the southern side of the Panmunjom truce village. Ri crossed the border in a black sedan to attend a dinner banquet hosted by the South.

Yoon Young-chan, the Blue House senior secretary for public affairs, told reporters in Seoul Tuesday that Pyongyang suggested Kim Jung-sook visit Kim Won Gyun University of Music and Okryu Children’s Hospital during her three-day stay in the North, an offer that the South’s presidential office accepted.

The visits to the two institutes were made Tuesday afternoon as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were holding the first of a two-part summit this week, the third between the two leaders.

At the hospital, Ri and Kim Jung-sook talked with four young patients and their guardians, after which they dropped by a treatment room for children with neurodevelopmental disorders and a classroom in which long-term patients learn through play and receive psychological education.

At the music university, they were shown four performances by the school’s orchestra and choir, including “We Are One,” a famous North Korean song yearning for reunification, which both Ri and Kim Jung-sook sang along to.

Renowned South Korean composer Kim Hyeong-seok, a member of Moon’s entourage who accompanied the first lady to the music university, was quoted by Ko Min-jung, deputy spokesperson for the Blue House, as saying he hoped to co-produce a song that can be sung by musicians from both Koreas next year to mark the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement. The mass anti-Japanese demonstration held in downtown Seoul on March 1, 1919, was a catalyst for the independence movements that sprung up across the then-unified Korea.

Japan’s colonial rule over the peninsula began in 1910 and lasted until the conclusion of World War II in 1945.

Local pundits speculated Ri would accompany Kim Jung-sook during her visits to North Korean facilities this week, given the North Korean leader’s fondness for the international spotlight and his efforts to make himself appear to be a normal head of state.

North Korean media, which used to refer to Ri as Kim Jong-un’s “wife” or give her no title at all, began to address her as the “first lady” on Feb. 8, when she observed a military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Army alongside Kim Jong-un.


More in Politics

Injunction gives Yoon his job back, at least temporarily

Prosecutors implore Choo to reconsider suspension

Blue House aide draws fire for football game amid virus restrictions

Tensions rise between prosecution, Ministry of Justice ahead of court review

Opposition jumps on idea of Assembly probe of Choo

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now