News / Asia

S. Korea Offers Condolences to North

The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is laid in a memorial palace in Pyongyang, North Korea, December 20, 2011.
The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is laid in a memorial palace in Pyongyang, North Korea, December 20, 2011.

South Korea has offered its condolences to the North Korean people a day after the world learned of the death of ruler Kim Jong Il.  The Seoul government was caught off guard by the news of his passing, amounting to what some say is an intelligence failure.  The South is scrapping plans to turn on provocative Christmas lights along the demilitarized zone.

Speaking after a presidential cabinet meeting on Tuesday, South Korean Minister of Unification Yu Woo-ik spoke on behalf of the government and addressed the people of North Korea.

He says the government conveys a consolation to North Korean citizens for the death of the chairman Kim Jong Il.

Yu says no official delegation will be sent to Pyongyang to attend Kim’s funeral on December 28. But Seoul will allow Lee Hee-ho, the wife of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, and Hyun Jung-eun, chairwoman of the Hyundai Group, to visit North Korea to offer their personal condolences.  Both families had met with Kim Jong Il, in the past, during efforts to improve political and business relations with the North.

Also on Tuesday, lawmakers in the South Korean National Assembly questioned the nation’s spy chief, Won Sei-hoon, on how the administration was left in the dark about Kim’s death.  Both the National Intelligence Service and the Defense Ministry here say they only became aware of Kim’s passing once it was broadcast on North Korean television.   

Some observers say this represents an embarrassing intelligence failure.  Others say it speaks to how secretive the Pyongyang government is.    

John Delury, who lectures in East Asian studies at Yonsei university in Seoul, says its not the first time the Lee Myung Bak administration has failed to gather intelligence ahead of major incidents.

“They’re getting a lot of heat for again not knowing about it and that's been an ongoing issue with other incidents, other surprises, Kim Jong Il’s visits to China, tensions, conflicts on the NLL, the sea border, this issue has dogged the MB administration and its coming back again now, ” Delury said.

Delury adds that the administration was also late in coming out with an official statement regarding Kim’s death.  He points out that on Monday, the United States, China and Japan had all issued some form of response.

Unification Minister Yu also said during his announcement today that South Korea is backing off on its support to allow Christian groups to light Christmas lights on tree-shaped poles near the Demilitarized Zone.  Pyongyang previously had labeled the practice psychological warfare.

Yu says, because North Korea is in a mourning period, the government has decided to recommend the religious groups to defer the lighting of Christmas trees which was planned for December 23, near inter-Korean boarder.

North Korea had threatened to attack the three locations if the thousands of lights are switched on.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid