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The mourners' delegation from South Korea upon their arrival in Pyongyang on Monday
A ray of 'Sunshine': the mourners' delegation from South KoreaImage: dapd

South's mourners

December 27, 2011

An ex-First Lady and a leading businesswoman were the most prominent members of a South Korean mourning delegation to visit Pyongyang after the death of Kim Jong Il. They also briefly met North Korea's new leader.


North Korea's last leader, Kim Jong Il, died on December 17. At the Kumsusan Palace, where Kim Jong Il is lying in state surrounded by flowers and an honor guard, the South Korean delegation stood on a red carpet and bowed silently, as footage from AP Television News showed.

Mourning the dead

The chief delegates on the South Korean side were Lee Hee Ho, the widow of former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, and Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of the Hyundai group. Kim Dae Jung had implemented the so-called Sunshine Policy with North Korea. Hyun Jeong-eun's husband had ties to the North. North Korea sent delegations to Seoul when the women's husbands died.

The South Korean delegation also met Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament and considered to be the nominal head of state as such. Economic agreements were discussed at the meeting, as the North's official Korean Central News Agency reports. The two sides are said to have agreed to push for the implementation of the 2000 and 2007 summit agreements aimed at expanding economic cooperation.

Kim Jong Un paying respect to his father at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang on Monday
Kim Jong Un paying respect to his father on MondayImage: dapd

The rising 'Sun'

Kim Jong Un's brief meeting with the South Korean delegation confirmed his new role at the top of the country's ruling structure. The state media has been showering him with praise and new titles. The main Rodong Sinmun newspaper described him on Monday as the head of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, a post that would seem to make him the top official of the ruling party. He has been described as the "supreme leader" and is being otherwise referred to as a "great successor" and "outstanding leader," all in the tradition of the personality cult built up around his father and his grandfather.

Meanwhile, mourning continues in freezing weather. Kim Jing Il's funeral will take place on Wednesday. Observers expect that hundreds of thousands will be mobilized to bid farewell to the man who ruled North Korea for 17 years.

Author: Arun Chowdhury (AP, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Sarah Berning

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