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Burma Memorial Opened for 1983 Seoul Leadership


South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se speaks during unveiling of memorial monument, Rangoon, June 6, 2014.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se speaks during unveiling of memorial monument, Rangoon, June 6, 2014.

Government officials in Rangoon on Friday opened a memorial for victims of a 1983 North Korean assassination attempt against former South Korean president Chun Doo-Hwan.

Some South Koreans returned Friday to the site of the attack in the capital of Burma, also known as Myanmar, to dedicate the monument and take part in a wreath laying ceremony.

The attack killed 21 people, including South Korea's then foreign minister Lee Beom-Seok, as well as Seoul's deputy prime minister and industry minister. The Burmese government had offered 2,800 square feet of land overlooking the site of the attack.

Addressing Friday's ceremony, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se said the memorial marks an important landmark in his country's relations with Burma.

"We really appreciate the support made by the government of Myanmar and the people of Myanmar for this ceremony," he said. "This represents the ever growing friendship between the two countries."

One of the two North Korean agents arrested after the attack was later executed, while the other received a life sentence after admitting that he had been operating under orders from Pyongyang, which never admitted responsibility for the attack. Burma cut off diplomatic relations with North Korea shortly thereafter, though ties were re-established in 2007, after which the two countries were suspected of illegal weapons deals.

Burma began political reforms in 2011 and promised to not to engage in any military transactions with North Korea. However, the U.S. last year applied sanctions against a Burmese military officer and three Burmese companies for allegedly violating the ban on illegal weapons deals with North Korea.

The U.S. and the United Nations have banned arms deals with North Korea.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

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