Delegation to head North later this week

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Delegation to head North later this week

A South Korean delegation of 150 government officials, politicians, civic workers and others from the private sector will visit North Korea from Thursday through Saturday to celebrate the 11th anniversary of a peace declaration signed during a summit between the leaders of both Koreas in 2007.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, announced Tuesday that the visit was a follow-up to the Pyongyang Declaration, which was signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sept. 19 during their third summit in Pyongyang. The declaration says that both countries agreed to hold “meaningful events” to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the Oct. 4 Declaration.

The Oct. 4 Declaration was signed by former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in the second summit held between the leaders of the two countries since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

An official at the Unification Ministry said Tuesday that the South Korean delegation planned to participate in a ceremony hosted by both countries on Friday while visiting North Korean landmarks and spectating a cultural performance.

Inter-Korean talks will also take place on how to carry out the Pyongyang Declaration, the official added, but it was unknown who exactly from the North planned to take part. The official said that Seoul has yet to receive a list of participants from the North. It is unknown whether Kim Jong-un will meet with the delegation.

Those in the South Korean delegation include Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon; Lee Hae-chan, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, who is also the chairman of the board of directors at the Roh Moo Hyun Foundation; Rep. Won Hye-young of the Democratic Party; Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don; and Chi Eun-hee, the ex-chairman of the board of directors at Justice for the ‘Comfort Women,’ a civic group dedicated to Korean women who were recruited by the Japanese imperial army to work as sex slaves in military brothels during World War II.

The group will fly on a government plane and depart from Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, on Thursday morning. They will use an air route over the Yellow Sea.

The Unification Ministry official said Seoul was planning to cover the costs of accommodations through state coffers. It stressed that the visit won’t violate United Nations Security Council sanctions because it is aimed at the “restoration of national homogeneity.”

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